Yesterday, fellow pro-public education blogger, Jersey Jazzman, wrote a great piece about the fact that a number of school districts in New Jersey – all populated by black and Hispanic citizens – have been under state control for years. (See: Local Control of Schools: It’s a White People Thing.)
Diane Ravitch, in turn, picked up the piece on her national blog, noting that, “In many districts, especially where the population is non-white, privatizers insist on mayoral control or state control…there is no evidence that taking away popular rule improves the schools…It does make it easier, however, to privatize them.”
We certainly know that reality here, as Governor Malloy’s education reform associates like Mayor Bill Finch, “Education Reformer Extraordinaire” Paul Vallas, and corporate business organizations like Excel Bridgeport and the Council for Education Reform, are spending over $100,000 to eliminate Bridgeport’s democratically elected board of education and replace it with one appointed by the Mayor.
As Diane Ravitch also noted, Michelle Rhee’s husband, Kevin Johnson, a former basketball star and now Mayor of Sacramento, California, was recently in Bridgeport to speak at a forum with Finch and Vallas to spread the message that having the right to choose one’s elected representatives was way overrated.
At the “information session,” the three “Democrats” explained, to the assembled that, in essence, democracy was an impediment to having quality schools.
A funny statement since a National School Board Association study recently determined that 96 percent of respondents reported that membership on their local board of education was determined by popular election. In addition, the report identified that the “evidence of existing or attempted mayoral control was found in less than 20 major districts around the United States”.
The whole notion is especially “funny” considering Paul Vallas has gotten his last four six figure jobs through appointed boards, but recently his private consulting company signed an $18 million contract with the Indianapolis School Board, a board that is democratically elected.
In response to Kevin Johnson statements here in Connecticut, Bridgeport native John Bagley, another former NBA star, who was recently elected to the Bridgeport Board of Education as a member of the Working Families Party, wrote a commentary piece in the CT Post responding to Johnson’s ant-democracy position.
Bagley’s outstanding piece can be found here: http://www.ctpost.com/opinion/article/Bagley-and-KJ-one-on-one-one-more-time-3985354.php#ixzz2AVde6X00
As to Kevin Johnson’s message, Bagley wrote, “’KJ’ didn’t tell us that his city of Sacramento, like the towns of Trumbull, Fairfield, Easton, Stratford and Westport, has an elected Board of Education. When he and his so-called `reformers’ start demanding an appointed board in Trumbull and Fairfield, then I will be willing to listen to what he has to say, even if his advice comes long-distance.”
Bagley added, “Maybe ‘KJ’ and his `reformers’ can explain why the city of New Haven, which has an appointed board, has more failing schools than Bridgeport.”
Finally, Bagley closed with a message to Johnson, but it is a message that should be delivered to all the people who are spending big money to undermine democracy in Bridgeport.
Bagley wrote, “Don’t come into my house and mess with my right to vote.”
The fact is, those corporate education reformers, including Finch and Vallas, should be ashamed. And meanwhile, the silence coming out of the Governor’s Offices is deafening.