Connecticut seeks to lead the “Local Control is a White People Thing” bandwagon?

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:

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.

  • Justin

    ESL (English as a Second Language) services in Bridgeport are at an all-time manpower low, schools average 1 special ed paraprofessional for all grades, mandated sped hours are a thing of the past, reading specialists are used as substitutes, guidance counselors, social workers, Home School coordinators and school psychologists are all part-timers. How can it get any worse?

    • Hurricane Sand-Rhee

      With privatization, Justin, it WILL get worse. Charter schools are “free” from so many of the checks and balances of the public school system, so many obligations that they do not have to meet. Some privatizers have deluded themselves into thinking that this freedom will create better schools, but the Great Recession should have taught them by now that deregulation *does not work.* There are reasons for rules such as the ones you’ve listed.

      This is all about short term profit and political power-grabbing. This wave of privatization is little different, ethically, from the colonization of the African continent. Stealing in the name of “enlightening” a “deepest, darkest” recesses of the continent.

      Just like colonists, private concerns can cut and run whenever their balance sheets tell them that they’ve profited all they can. Bridgeport (and the state overall) will have to clean up the mess, basically plugging money back in to Bridgeport that was taken away during this upcoming brave new era of privatization.

      I would love to know if there is anyone connected with all this who is a shareholder or otherwise connected to the textbook and software companies that are being brought in to Connecticut’s cities under Pryor.

      Malloy, Finch, and Pryor, —–and all their accomplices in Hartford– have hooked a giant money vacuum cleaner to the pockets of Bridgeport’s residents, all for the benefit of the rich and powerful.

      With a “yes” vote on 11/6, Bridgeport’s residents will have been bamboozled into upgrading that vacuum cleaner to a Dyson.

    • Linda174

      When Finch takes total control and sells the schools to the eduvultures….this is all about privatization and profits…it has nothing to do with teaching, learning and children. Check out chapter five in the Ravitch book, The Death and Life of the Great American School System titled the NYC business model.

  • Linda174

    The Governor only repeats what Pryor, with no prior teaching experience, tells him to repeat. He hasn’t received his latest talking points yet and he is now busy with Stacy.

    As noted on Ravitch:

    The eduvultures are masquerading as saviors while preying on those that are the easiest to manipulate and exploit.

    You are correct, Jon, they should all be ashamed, but they are not…their narcissism clouds their sense of right and wrong. They rationalize their tactics as….well, at least their actions have saved some of “these people”.

    They probably look at themselves in the mirror and think about all they have sacrificed for the poor brown children in our country.

    We could only hope that the hurricane might produce another “disaster as opportunity” event to whisk Vallas, the supereduhero, far, far away

  • Luther

    Like town government in Michighan

  • Parentknows

    I agree with some statements here. It’s not right people, whatever color they are, lose their right to decide their destiny. But here are my questions….
    Kids are coming to school underprepared and more community schools have more and more sped and ell students. How do we change this?
    Do we go back to the dysfunctional system we had? What are the options we have so that white people bandwagon can continue?
    Was the school reform legislation created so suburbs don’t get failing school status?
    Solution: regionalize schools so poor kids from Bridgeport can go to a a so called successful white school. Whites would rather throw money at this problem than have poor kids go to their child’s school. instead let’s deplete all the community schools top minority students and send them to overfunded magnet schools. Then deem these underfunded community schools as failures.
    As a poor parent who sends their kid to a poor community school, I just want my child to have the same shot as everyone else.

    • Bill Morrison

      Most of us who regularly post are white. Some of us are college professors, others are teachers in urban districts. Still others are parents like yourself. We are fighting the reformers, and we are beginning to come together to resist these people. It is not white America trying to keep minorities down; rather, it is a situation where unscrupulous people are using minorities in urban districts for their own personal gain and for their agendas. Please join us! We could use your help!

    • Linda174

      Schools have been labeled failures by test scores only. And schools could have a majority of their students passing the CMT’s or CAPT and still be labeled a failure due to one sub group only.

      Actually, many schools were failures only due to the special Ed groups who function below grade level, or they wouldn’t be sped. And they must take the on grade level test (unless you were in
      Hartford during the Adamowski days when he increased the number in the MAS testing level). So I guess I would need to know why you believe your school is a “failing school”.

    • I don’t have a problem with Integration but an age old truth is hidden in the details. When the parents get actively involved and make sure their kids are in the Choice Program that selects the students to be ‘integrated; into the suburbs’, half the battle is won right there.

      OTOH half the kids who really need some sort or intervention–their choice forms rarely come back and if they do are set for the lowest expectations.

      It’s really just another way of creating drop out warehouses for those left behind. It’s more tolerable to the teachers union so they accept it. When Regional Choice includes Charter Schools and Parochial schools–then the squawk box starts. These schools are cherry picking, etc. If you were to cherry pick the same kids who get intergrated into the burbs and place them into a non-union Hartford school and manned by non-union employees then Hear the Wail

      There’s a slippery art to Diane’s “non-union shops are bad” rhetoric .

  • Bill Morrison

    One of my biggest issues about Adamowski has been that he targets urban (or minority) school districts for his so-called reforms that amount to no more than institutionalized racism. Point in fact . . . if the district becomes a degree mill for African-Americans, Hispanics, and other minorities, those minorities receive diplomas that they did not have to earn (as in Hartford under Adamowski). They will then go to community colleges or state universities for which they are unqualified, fail out after assuming student loan debt, and have to then work out their lives as drones.
    The reformers’ methods would not fly in affluent surburban districts, where local control is never challenged. It is only in the urban districts, where the citizenry is largely disenfranchised where the Adamowskis, the Vallases, the Pryors and the Rhees can thrive.

    • Linda174

      Yes, when the above named vultures, along with Obama, Emanuel, Bloomberg, Christie, Malloy, Duncan and the rest of the clowns, send their kids to a KIPP or AF test prep factory, manned by TFA temps and Stepford test prep drones trained by the
      Lemov control tactics, then we can talk about “reform” and equal opportunities for all.

  • Iteachwithbill

    Kids were underperforming before the reform and the Adamowski reign. Adamowsi sucks! This has happened because kids come to school not ready to do grade level work. Lets look at the failure rate at all schools ,not just poor kids, across the state and see if we have the same standards in place. How many students are going to pass your class this year that don’t deserve to pass? I hope none but you know that is not true. I am not a fan of the reform but what is the answer to you teaching poor kids better so they can make it. How about you move to their community and teach them guitar classes. Please don’t advocate for the very kids you fail.

    • Apartheid First

      The Hartford Administrator is back.

      For the record, there are some questionable practices in suburban school districts as well, and some students “passing” who probably shouldn’t be. The former system was less dysfunctional (pedagogically) than the current one–for all students. Why did Adamowski shut down a state-of-the-art auto shop program?

      The resources of poorer school districts do not match those of suburban ones, and that is criminal. The abandonment of cities–on so many levels–is just making things worse. Now we have suburban sprawl, excessive use of cars, degradation of green space–all to favor the Mcmansion habits of people of means or of bloated mortgages.

      • Linda174

        Oscar? He has mad free time for a busy administrator.

    • Bill Morrison

      I agree that kids come to school not ready to do grade level work. I have noticed that, since Adamowski’s “Pass’em all policies”, the problem is exacerbated by the fact that our district has failed to hold them accountable for their performance. They simply do not believe that they have to earn passing grades because they have never had to earn them.

      This is one of the biggest problems with the reformers; they have taken student accountability out of the equation of school success. They base their definition of success simply on standardized tests that have no statistical relationship to school success. They then blame teachers for failure when that failure has yet to be defined adequately. They actually hold students accountable for nothing, much to the students’ detriment.

      As far as who I pass or fail, you are quite mistaken that I choose to pass or fail anyone. I try to hold them accountable for their learning and I will give them the grades they earn. But, I will give them the chance to succeed, and most do respond to second chances when they see that I mean what I say. Concerning teaching them better, I have had my students writing extended papers to APA guidelines and have done so successfully. My students have written 15 to 20 page papers for years. As for moving to their neighborhoods, why do so?
      Finally, I do not know any teacher whose name is “Iteachwithbilll”.

      And, I do teach guitar classes after school. What’s your point? Since the reformers have cut the arts from schools, I am trying to add them to their lives and to their education.

    • Bill Morrison

      And, I am proud to be an advocate for those students who are failing. Perhaps they do well in my classes because t hey see that I will stand by them, speak on their behalf, and hold them to standards while they are learning how to meet those standards. They know that I will not let them down; in turn, they will not let me down.