Bridgeport, Corporate Welfare, Economic Development, Malloy Bass Pro, Bridgeport, Corporate Welfare, Economic Development, Malloy, Mayor Bill Finch
Less than two months ago, Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch was still calling the plan to open a Bass Pro store in Bridgeport a “deal changer.” In April Finch told residents, “The deal from the state of Connecticut should probably be inked sometime this summer” and added that he was planning for a December 2014 groundbreaking.
Finch’s statement continued the odd saga surrounding the Bass Pro effort which began last July when Governor Malloy, Mayor Finch and Bass Pro officials held a star-studded outdoor press conference to announce that Bass Pro would be opening a new store in the Steel Point section of Bridgeport.
At the time officials said the new Bass Pro Shop would “open on the waterfront property before Christmas 2013.”
Finch told the crowd that day, “This is going to be a destination for millions of people to come to Bridgeport and experience Bass Pro and the city like they never have before.”
Governor Malloy added, “This is what success feels like.”
Ten months later, with no deal in sight, Mayor Finch was quoted in a May Connecticut Post article as saying, “(The state is) as enthusiastic as they’ve ever been about the project, but it’s an economic analysis that takes time.”
An economic analysis that takes time?
While Bass Pro is a privately held company and information about its financial condition is secret, a recent Bloomberg News story reported that “according to a November 2012 report by Moody’s Investors Service, Bass Pro has annual sales of at least $2.6 billion.”
Regardless, one thing is certain when it comes to Bass Pro; they know how to access taxpayer-funded corporate welfare.
According to the same Bloomberg News article, “The Public Accountability Initiative, a Buffalo, New York-based research group, estimated in a 2010 report that Bass Pro-anchored retail projects had won more than $500 million in taxpayer subsidies.
Another watchdog group, the Franklin Center for Government & Public Integrity, based in Alexandria, Virginia, estimated in August 2012 that Bass Pro and its closest competitor, Sidney, Nebraska-based Cabela’s, received or were promised more than $2.2 billion from taxpayers over the prior 15 years.”
Meanwhile, Bass Pro continues to fight federal allegations that it discriminates against minority workers. An April 2013 court filing revealed that out of 14,374 Bass Pro employees hired between 2005 and 2009, only 995, or 6.9 percent, were black and 1,207, or 8.4 percent were Hispanic.
But despite the complaints about Bass Pro’s hiring policies, their gun sale policies and concerns that the Bass Pro store being proposed for Bridgeport is much smaller than their standard facility, Mayor Finch and Governor Malloy have reportedly remained avid proponents of the effort to bring Bass Pro to Bridgeport.
So the question is… for a Governor who seems perfectly willing to hand out hundreds of millions in taxpayer subsidies to extremely successful private companies, where do things stand with the Bass Pro deal?
Bridgeport, Kenneth Moales, Malloy, Mayor Bill Finch, Paul Vallas, Stefan Pryor Bridgeport, Kenneth Moales Jr., Malloy, Mayor Bill Finch, Paul Vallas, Stefan Pryor
When it comes to the ongoing attempt to keep education reformer extraordinaire Paul Vallas in place as Bridgeport’s superintendent of schools, Governor Malloy and his commissioner of education, Stefan Pryor, seem oblivious to their legal responsibilities. What makes the situation even more incredible is that Malloy and Pryor are actually flouting the very law they wrote to allow Vallas to slide into the position without the certification he would have otherwise needed.
Meanwhile, not only is Board of Education Chairman and Mayor Finch ally, Kenneth Moales, Jr. a willing accomplice in Malloy and Pryor’s scheme, but Moales is engaged in his own anti-democratic efforts by bullying and berating fellow members of the board, as well as pushing for a change in the rules to limit the minority from even being heard.
Yesterday, The Connecticut Post weighed in with a “must read” editorial about the lawsuit challenging the effort to skirt the law to keep Vallas in a job he isn’t qualified to hold.
The editors wrote, “There’s a tendency in some quarters to dismiss the importance of lawsuits as a waste of time and resources. But when traditional means fail, and people in power are unable or unwilling to take a look at a question of legitimate public interest, a court challenge might be the only choice.
Such is the case here.
The qualifications for Bridgeport Superintendent of Schools Paul Vallas to hold his position are in question. This is not about his experience or his knowledge, but instead about the lawfully-required bar he is required to have cleared before he can assume his position.
It is not a question of semantics. Laws requiring standards to hold high-level jobs deny politicians the ability to put unqualified friends in those jobs, putting public policy in the hands of someone who happens to “know the right people.”
The editorial goes on to read, “On one count, there is no question — Vallas has received special treatment. He was temporarily appointed to his position despite not possessing the necessary qualifications as proscribed by state law, and the law was then changed to allow him to take the job permanently. Then, instead of completing a 13-month University of Connecticut course as would be required of other candidates, the state Board of Education approved for him an abbreviated, three-month program, which amounted to an independent study that was mostly completed remotely.”
While the full editorial can be found here: http://www.ctpost.com/news/article/School-lawsuit-will-provide-needed-answers-4594422.php, it ends with a simple, but profound conclusion;
Speaking to the pending case and the attempt to force the state to uphold the law, the Connecticut Post writes, “So it’s up to a judge. And it may be that the judge is just fine with all this. Should a court rule that all these steps were proper and necessary, and that Vallas has fulfilled his legal requirements to be a superintendent in the state of Connecticut, then that’s how it is. Such a ruling would codify a two-tiered system, one for people with reputations and high-ranking allies and the other for everyone else, but such a system would hardly be unprecedented. What is welcome is that the questions are being asked. Bridgeport and its school system could use more of that.”
Bridgeport, Kenneth Moales, Malloy, Paul Vallas, Stefan Pryor, Steven Adamowski, UConn, Windham Bridgeport, Malloy, Paul Vallas, Stefan Pryor, Steven Adamowski
Governor Malloy’s Commissioner of Education, Stefan Pryor, can now officially claim that he has the authority to waive Paul Vallas’ certification requirements following last night’s vote of the Bridgeport Board of Education.
With certification purportedly waived, Paul Vallas, the self-described Michael Jordon of Education, can become the only non-certified permanent superintendent of schools in Connecticut. Steven Adamowski is also non-certified but he is “only” the special master of the Windham and New London School Systems.
The highlight of the meeting was when the Chairman of the Bridgeport School Board, Kenneth Moales, Jr. told his fellow members that the board should not question the validity of a University of Connecticut certification.
While Connecticut State Law requires a non-certified superintendent to go through an Educational Leadership Program at a Connecticut institution of higher education, in April, Commissioner Pryor and the State Board of Education interpreted that language to allow Vallas to take one $3,000 independent study course rather the $25,000, thirteen month Executive Education Leadership Program that leads to the State of Connecticut’s “093 Superintendent” certification.
According to a story in the Connecticut Post, “Board member Sauda Baraka called the decision to give Vallas an exception outrageous,” while “Board member Maria Pereira said Bridgeport deserved a qualified superintendent.”
But as Malloy’s Commissioner of Education would undoubtedly argue, “qualified” is in the eye of the beholder, despite laws to the contrary.
Thanks to Stefan Pryor, Vallas, who has no teaching experience, will become a full, permanent Connecticut superintendent after taking a 90 day independent study, while every other superintendent in Connecticut was required to have years of experience and have taken numerous education courses.
In fact, “normal” people can’t even get into UConn’s Executive Leadership Program unless they have a Master’s Degree and fifteen graduate credits beyond the Masters. Vallas apparently has no graduate work beyond his 33-year-old Master’s.
Of course, the decision to waive Vallas’ certification rests in the hands of the Stefan Pryor, who also has no teaching or academic experience in education and who brags that he brought Vallas to Connecticut.
As background, the Connecticut Post story explains, “The district is essentially asking Commissioner of Education Stefan Pryor to approve the three-month school leadership program that Vallas took at the University of Connecticut. Earlier this spring, the state Board of Education deemed the independent study program sufficient for Vallas, who previously has been in charge of school districts in Chicago, Philadelphia and New Orleans, to lead Bridgeport’s school district.
Vallas was hired as an acting superintendent in December 2011 by a state-appointed school board. Although the state Supreme Court ordered the return of a locally elected school board, Vallas remained in the position and in March, the board voted 5-4 to give him a three-year contract pending his successful completion of the UConn program and receipt of the certification waiver.”
As readers know, there is a pending lawsuit against Vallas that is based on his lack of credentials. The lawsuit was brought by retired Connecticut Judge Carmen Lopez and Deborah Reyes-Williams, a Bridgeport parent. The legal team is headed by the renowned lawyer, Norm Pattis, and the case is expected to go to trial next week, which is by Pryor, Vallas and the Bridgeport Board of Education are rushing to get their ducks in order.
You can read more about the latest development at the Connecticut Post: http://www.ctpost.com/local/article/Bridgeport-board-votes-for-Vallas-waiver-4591701.php#ixzz2VuKWaRAw
Bridgeport, Charles H. Barrows STEM Academy, Charter Schools, Christina Kishimoto, Family Urban Schools of Excellence (FUSE), Hartford, Jumoke Academy, Malloy, Mayor Pedro Segarra, Paul Vallas, Stefan Pryor Bridgeport, Fuse, Hartford, Jumoke Academy, Malloy, Mayor Pedro Segarra, Stefan Pryor
While Stefan Pryor, Malloy’s Commissioner of Education, continues to dismiss his legal obligations as they relate to the certification requirements for Paul Vallas to serve as Bridgeport’s superintendent of schools, the State Board of Education did a 180 degree flip, last week, when they voted to add Bridgeport’s Dunbar Elementary School to Stefan Pryor’s “Commissioner’s Network” “turnaround” program.
Pryor and the State Board returned, once again, to one of their favorite charter school management companies by handing the local Bridgeport public school over to Hartford’s Family Urban Schools of Excellence, the company that runs Jumoke Academy Charter School in Hartford.
It was just last summer that Pryor and his education reform and privatization team gave Hartford’s Milner Elementary school over to the FUSE/Jumoke Academy.
But last year they also allowed FUSE/Jumoke to insert an illegal provision that prevented any new students from transferring into the “new” Jumoke Academy at Milner after October 1st.
This provision was clearly illegal since Malloy’s education reform law states that “”(c) Any not-for-profit educational management organization that is assigned the management, administration or governance of a school participating in the commissioner’s network of schools shall continue the enrollment policies and practices of such school that were in effect prior to such participation in the commissioner’s network of schools.”
Real public schools aren’t allowed to restrict access to public school students by placing an artificial date after which no child may transfer into the school. But despite the law, Commissioner Pryor allowed Jumoke to add just such a provision.
But this time, the State Board of Education miraculously decided to follow the law. As the Connecticut Post noted in a recent article, “One change made in the draft plan by the state board was to remove a sentence that would have barred new students from enrolling in the school after Oct. 1. Enrollment would be open beyond that date.”
What makes Commissioner Pryor and the State Board of Education’s action so interesting is that we now have the situation that while following the law was deemed important in the recent decision with the Dunbar School; Hartford’s students are still suffering from the illegal policy at the Jumoke Academy at Milner.
In fact, Hartford Board of Education members, José Colón-Rivas, Robert Cotto, Jr. and Brad Noel have been so concerned about the enrollment date violation at Milner that they submitted a resolution to the full Board of Education asking that the Jumoke enrollment policy be changed. However, rather than protect the interests of their city’s children, the Hartford Board of Education, which is controlled by Mayor Pedro Segarra, tabled the motion, thereby allowing the unfair and illegal policy to remain in place.
Why Hartford’s Mayor, Superintendent of Schools and the majority on the school board would allow their own city’s children to be treated so unfairly is a sad commentary about politicians putting their relationship with Jumoke above the constituents, and in this case, the law.
Now that the State Board of Education has reversed course and decided to actually adhere to the legal requirements, it will be interesting to see if the Mayor and the majority on the Hartford Board of Education decide to implement the change that was demanded by Board members, José Colón-Rivas, Robert Cotto, Jr. and Brad Noel
Meanwhile, over in Windham, the infamous “operations plan” for the new Charles H. Barrows STEM Academy STILL READS that, “Enrollment will end on September 30th of the school year…Mid -year transfers will not be permitted to protect the enculturation of students and allow for beginning of the school year expectation to be learned by each student. This also holds the integrity of the lottery process intact.”
Bridgeport, Charter Schools, Malloy, Paul Vallas, Stefan Pryor, Steven Adamowski Bridgeport, Malloy, Paul Vallas, Stefan Pryor, Stevan Adamowski
In Connecticut, your child’s school teacher must be certified by the State Department of Education. Their guidance counselor must be certified. Their school nurse must be certified. Their school principal must be certified. The coach of their school sports team must be certified.
In fact, in order to serve as a school teacher or administrator in a Connecticut public school you must hold one or more of the certifications provided by the Education Department. That is unless you are a “public” charter school. Thanks to a $100,000-a-year lobbying contract, charter schools managed to convince our elected officials to pass legislation that allows them to only have 70% of their staff certified.
But for the rest of us, the law is clear – 100% of the teachers and administrators must be certified. You can find the all the various types of certification at the end of this blog post.
Then along came Steven Adamowski. The powers that be wanted to name Steven Adamowski Superintendent of Schools in Hartford, but Adamowski was unwilling (or unable) to get certified so the Connecticut General Assembly passed a special law that provided that “The commissioner [of education] may…grant a waiver of certification to a person (1) who has successfully completed at least three years of experience as a certified administrator with a superintendent certificate issued by another state…”
Thanks to that new law, Adamowski was allowed to work as Hartford’s superintendent of schools without being certified.
And then in 2012, along came Paul Vallas.
But the problem for Paul Vallas was that he had never held a superintendent’s certificate. In fact, Vallas had never, ever been certified to teach or serve as a school administrator.
So Governor Malloy proposed and the General Assembly passed another change to Connecticut’s certification law, this time allowing the commissioner of education to waive certification for someone who has served as an “acting superintendent of schools,” as long as they “successfully complete a school leadership program, approved by the State Board of Education, offered at a public or private institution of higher education in the state,” during their time as “acting superintendent.”
So in March 2013, Paul Vallas started an independent study class at UConn.
On April 15, 2013, the State Board of Education passed a resolution naming the University of Connecticut’s School Leadership Program the “approved” school leadership program that was required by the new law. However, it turns out that by way of an “attachment” to the motion, the State Board now claims that what they approved was Vallas’ one class “program” and not UConn’s 13 month Executive Leadership Program that everyone else must take to get their superintendent certification.
On May 31, less than 90 days after Vallas began his independent study class, the UConn professor who was serving as Paul Vallas’ academic advisor wrote that Vallas had completed his course.
As a result of that news, tomorrow night, June 10th, the Bridgeport Board of Education is scheduled to vote to request that Malloy’s Commissioner of Education waive Vallas’ certification requirements, thereby allowing him to become the permanent superintendent of schools in Bridgeport.
Undoubtedly, Commissioner of Education, Stefan Pryor, will do just that.
Stefan Pryor and the Bridgeport board of education are also violating the law as it relates to Vallas’ probationary period, but putting that aside, they are full steam ahead when it comes to allowing Vallas to serve as the uncertified superintendent of schools.
So when you send your children back to school tomorrow, know that every teacher and every administrator your child comes in contact with will be certified to hold their job, unless they run into Paul Vallas or Steven Adamowski…those two are simply too big to certify.
Too big to certify?
It was only a few months ago that Paul Vallas said that requiring him to be certified was like telling Michael Jordan that he needed to be certified to coach basketball.
Of course, if Michael Jordan did want to coach basketball at a high school in Connecticut he WOULD need to get certification from the State Department of Education. But hey, we’re talking about Paul Vallas here, so let’s not let not let the facts get in the way of his key point.
Meanwhile, check and see which of the following certifications your children’s teachers and administrators have.
001 Pre-Kindergarten Through Grade 8 *
002 Pre-Kindergarten Through Grade 6 *
003 Pre-Kindergarten Through Grade 3 *
004 Grades 1 Through 8 *
005 Elementary, Grades 1 – 6 (as of 7/1/03 includes K) *
006 Middle School, Grades 4 Through 8 *
007 Academic Subjects, Grades 7 and 8 *
008 Pre-Kindergarten and Kindergarten *
009 Bilingual *
010 Business, Grades 7 Through 12
011 Licensed Practical Nurse *
012 Academic Subjects *
013 Elementary, Grades K Through 6
015 English, Grades 7 Through 12
016 English, Grades 7 Through 9 *
017 Speech, Grades 7 Through 12 (Without English) *
018 French, Grades 7 Through 12
019 German, Grades 7 Through 12
020 Italian, Grades 7 Through 12
021 Latin, Grades 7 Through 12
022 Russian, Grades 7 Through 12
023 Spanish, Grades 7 Through 12
024 Other World Language, Grades 7 through 12
025 History, Grades 7 Through 12 *
026 History and Social Studies, Grades 7 Through 12
027 Social Studies, Grades 7 Through 12 *
028 History and Social Studies, Grades 7 Through 9 *
029 Mathematics, Grades 7 Through 12
030 Biology, Grades 7 Through 12
031 Chemistry, Grades 7 Through 12
032 Physics, Grades 7 Through 12
033 Earth Science, Grades 7 Through 12
034 General Science, Grades 7 Through 12
035 Driver Education
036 Core Curriculum *
037 Psychology, Grades 7 Through 12 *
038 Sociology, Grades 7 Through 12 *
039 Secondary Subject *
040 Agriculture, Pre-Kindergarten Through Grade 12
041 Vocational Agriculture
042 Art, Pre-Kindergarten Through Grade 12
043 Health, Pre-Kindergarten Through Grade 12
044 Physical Education, Pre-Kindergarten Through Grade 12
045 Home Economics, Pre-Kindergarten Through Grade 12
046 Vocational Home Economics, Pre-Kindergarten – Grade 12 *
047 Technology Education, Pre-Kindergarten – Grade 12
048 Librarian, Grades 1 Through 12 *
049 Music, Pre-Kindergarten Through Grade 12
050 Special Subject *
051 Mentally Handicapped, Grades 1 Through 12 *
052 Mentally Handicapped, Grades 7 Through 12 *
053 Physically Handicapped, Grades 1 Through 12 *
054 Physically Handicapped, Grades 7 Through 12 *
055 Partially Sighted, Grades 1 Through 12
056 Partially Sighted, Grades 7 Through 12 *
057 Hearing Impaired, Pre-Kindergarten Through Grade 12
058 Deaf, Grades 7 Through 12 *
059 Blind, Pre-Kindergarten Through Grade 12
060 Blind, Grades 7 Through 12 *
061 Speech and Language Pathologist
062 School Library-Media Specialist
063 Special Teacher of Reading, Grades 1 Through 8 *
064 Special Teacher of Reading, Grades 7 Through 12 *
065 Comprehensive Special Education, Grades Pre-K – 12 *
066 Guidance Counselor – Elementary *
067 Guidance Counselor – Secondary *
068 School Counselor
069 Psychological Examiner *
070 School Psychologist
071 School Social Worker
072 School Nurse – Teacher
073 School Dental Hygenist – Teacher
074 Elementary Principal *
075 General Supervisor – Elementary *
076 Secondary Principal *
077 General Supervisor – Secondary *
078 Principal – Combined School *
079 Special Supervisor *
080 Administrative Assistant *
081 Superintendent of Schools *
082 Vocational Technical School Administrator
083 Special Administrative *
085 School Business Administrator
086 Director of Adult Education (Full-Time) *
087 Director of Adult Education (Part-Time) *
088 English to Non-English Speaking Adults
089 Marketing Education
090 Occupational Subjects in CT Technical High Schools
091 Trade Related Subjects in CT Technical High Schools
092 Intermediate Administrator and Supervisor
093 Superintendent of Schools
094 Adult Education *
095 Education Supervisor (State Department) *
096 Reading Consultant, Grades K Through 8 *
097 Reading and Language Arts Consultant, K – Grade 12
098 Trade and Industrial Occupation-Comprehensive High School
101 Foreign Language Instruction Elementary Level
102 Remedial Reading & Remedial Language Arts, Grades 1 – 12
103 Health Occupations- Comprehensive High School
104 Co-Operative Work Educ./Diversified Occup.
105 Department Chairperson
106 High School Credit Diploma Program
107 External Diploma Program/Noncredit Mandated Programs
108 Practical Nurse Educ. Instructor-CT Tech. High Schools
109 Health Occup. Instructor in CT Technical High Schools
110 Unique Subject Area Endorsement
111 Teaching English to Speakers of Other Lang., Pre-K – 12
112 Integrated Early Childhood/Special Ed., Birth – K
113 Integrated Early Childhood/Special Ed., N-K: Elem. 1-3
165 Comp. Special Education, Grades K – 12
215 English, Middle School
226 History & Social Studies, Middle School
229 Mathematics, Middle School
230 Biology, Middle School
231 Chemistry, Middle School
232 Physics, Middle School
233 Earth Science, Middle School
234 General Science, Middle School
235 Integrated Science, Middle School
265 Comp. Special Education, 1-12 (as of 7/1/03 includes K) *
268 School Marriage and Family Therapist
902 Bilingual Elementary Education
915 Bilingual English, 7-12
926 Bilingual History/Social Studies, 7-12
929 Bilingual Mathematics, 7-12
930 Bilingual Biology, 7-12
931 Bilingual Chemistry, 7-12
932 Bilingual Physics, 7-12
933 Bilingual Earth Science, 7-12
934 Bilingual General Science, 7-12
966 Bilingual English, Middle School
967 Bilingual History/Social Studies, Middle School
968 Bilingual Mathematics, Middle School
969 Bilingual Biology, Middle School
970 Bilingual Chemistry, Middle School
971 Bilingual Physics, Middle School
972 Bilingual Earth Science, Middle School
973 Bilingual General Science, Middle School
974 Bilingual Integrated Science, Middle School
Bridgeport, Malloy, Paul Vallas, Stefan Pryor, UConn Bridgeport, Malloy, Paul Vallas, Stefan Pryor, UConn
Did you pay to go to UConn? Are you still paying?
You aren’t alone. This year there are 17,528 undergraduates at the Storrs campus with another 4,773 undergraduates at regional campuses. Then add in the 7,955 graduate and professional degree students.
The total cost of tuition and fees for an in-state undergraduate is just over $22,500 a year. The cost for an out of state student is just over $40,000. A graduate degree could cost you $100,000 or more.
Well over 50 percent of the money to fund UConn comes from students and their parents with about 25 percent coming from taxpayers. In total, the University of Connecticut budget is about $1.1 billion. Student Tuition and fees account for $533 million, the State of Connecticut adds $293 million and the rest comes from grants, contracts, gifts, sales and services.
Attending UConn isn’t cheap…and the cost is rising more rapidly thanks in part to the fact that Governor Malloy made the deepest cuts in state history to UConn and Connecticut’s other public colleges and universities.
But have no fear… If you’re one of the “special ones” you don’t have to deal the costs that “normal” people have to deal with.
For example, meet Paul Vallas, Bridgeport’s “Superintendent of Schools.” He was the CEO of the Chicago School System and ran the Philadelphia and New Orleans School Systems after those schools were taken-over by their respective states. Almost two years ago, at the request of Governor Malloy’s Commissioner of Education, Stefan Pryor, Paul Vallas was hired to run the Bridgeport Schools where he makes $234,000 a year, despite the fact that he also runs his own consulting company called The Vallas Group.
The problem is Paul Vallas didn’t have the necessary certification to serve as a school superintendent in Connecticut so the Connecticut General Assembly passed a special law allowing Education Commissioner Pryor to waive Vallas’ certification requirements if he completed an Educational Leadership Program at a Connecticut College or University.
Part-way through the year’s spring Semester, Vallas enrolled in the University of Connecticut’s Education Leadership Program, despite the fact that he didn’t have the necessary 15 graduate credits past his masters. But Paul Vallas is special and apparently he didn’t have to go through the application process that normal people have to go through.
Furthermore, while “normal” people who are enrolled in UConn’s Educational Leadership Program have to take five graduate courses and an internship, Vallas was allowed to take one independent study in lieu of the program. Instead of the 13 months “normal” people take to get their credentials, Paul Vallas got his letter of completion after less than 100 days of work.
Adding insult to injury, despite the fact that he is not a Connecticut resident, UConn allowed him to pay the in-state rate for that one course he took.
So whereas a “normal” person would have to pay $25,000 plus to complete UConn’s Educational leadership Program, Paul Vallas paid $3,000.
Now we know the benefit of being one of the “special elite.”
Bridgeport, Kenneth Moales, Mayor Bill Finch Bridgeport, Bridgeport Board of Education, Kenneth Moales Jr., Mayor Bill Finch
Those voting in favor of taking away democratic rights:
Thomas Mulligan (D), Hernan Illingworth (D), Rev. Kenneth Moales Jr. (D)
Those in favor of preserving democratic rights:
Mara Pereira (WFP), Bobby Simmons (D)
The members loyal to Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch are victorious.
Last night, by a vote of 3-2, a Bridgeport Board of Education Committee voted to change the Boards rules to limit the rights of the minority. The proposal now goes to the full Board for a vote.
In parliamentary procedure it is referred to as “Calling the Question” or “Moving the Previous Question” or “Moving to Close Debate.” It is seldom used in a democracy because it is a procedural move that seeks to put an immediately end to all debate so that a vote can be taken right away.
While we Americans strongly believe in majority rule, our fundamental democratic beliefs require that the minority should always have the right to be heard.
In fact, Robert’s Rules of Order, the primary parliamentary guide used among boards and commissions across the country, requires that a vote to close debate be passed by a two-thirds vote.
A super-majority is needed because we believe that the right to be heard trumps the need to rush through meetings.
That’s the way the Board of Education works in the towns surrounding Bridgeport.
In Milford and Stratford and Trumbull and Shelton and Monroe and Easton and Fairfield and Westport, Roberts Rules of Order are used and a 2/3 is needed to end debate.
And that is the way it has been in Bridgeport.
But if the Finch forces have their way, that is about to end.
The simple concept of democracy and the right of the minority is apparently a concept that annoys those in charge of Bridgeport’s Board of Education so they are taking the unbelievable step of ending the right of the minority to be heard.
While their action is nothing short of un-American, that fact doesn’t seem to bother Kenneth Moales, Jr. and his two Democratic associates, Thomas Mulligan and Hernan Illingworth.
It will be interesting to see if Mayor Finch steps in and stops this outrage before Moales and company continue to destroy the image of Bridgeport.
Bridgeport, Kenneth Moales, Mayor Bill Finch Bridgeport, Democracy, Kenneth Moales Jr., Mayor Bill Finch
As this update is being posted to Wait, What? the Bridgeport Board of Education’s “Board Policy Committee” is meeting in Bridgeport. The five member committee is made up of three Democrats loyal to Mayor Finch and his political operation and two members of a more independent mind, one a Democrat and the other a member of the Working Families Party.
Any action taken tonight by the Board Policy Committee must be confirmed by the full Board of Education before it takes effect.
At first glance, tonight’s Board Policy agenda looked relatively innocent; that was until one takes a closer look at the wording of Agenda Item #2. The Agenda Item is entitled; “Rule Change to Close Debate”
Board Policy Agenda:
- Approval of April 29, 2013 Minutes
- Rule Change to Close Debate
- Discussion of Bylaws
- Power School Procedures
Like boards and commissions across the state, the Bridgeport Board of Education conducts itself using Roberts Rules of Order. Roberts Rules of Order is a parliamentary rule book that was first created in 1876 and amended from time to time over the past 137 years. Today, most organizations utilize the Eleventh Edition of Roberts Rules of Order, a version that was revised and updated as of 2011.
When it comes to closing debate and forcing a vote be taken on a topic, Roberts Rules of Order reads as follows:
“ If two-thirds of the assembly wish to close the debate without allowing all the time desired by others, they can do so by ordering either the previous question or the closing of the debate at a certain time; or they can limit the length of the speeches and allow each member to speak only once on each question… These motions require a two-thirds vote, as they suspend the fundamental right of every member of a deliberative assembly to have every question fully discussed before it is finally disposed of. A majority vote may lay the question on the table and thus temporarily suspend the debate, but it can be resumed by taking the question from the table by a majority vote…”
The concept is simple enough. Democracies and majority rule only work when systems are in place to ensure that the voice of the minority is not unfairly limited.
When it comes to a final policy vote, majority rule will normally carry the day. However, the minority has – what can only be called – a fundamental American right to be heard.
But some believe that fundamental Rights should be considered more as “guidelines” or “goals” rather than Rights.
And we are seeing that un-American spirit at work tonight in Bridgeport as Board of Education Chairman Kenneth Moales, Jr. and his two Democratic associates, Thomas Mulligan and Hernan Illingworth, seek to change the rule in Bridgeport so that all debate can be ended by a simple majority vote.
Gone would be the opportunity to ensure that the minority be heard.
Gone would be one of the most basic rules of American Democracy.
The only thing that would have been more stunning would have been if Moales and the Finch forces had attempted this outrageous maneuver on Memorial Day. In that way, the tens of thousands of brave men and women who fought to protect our American Democracy would have been able to better appreciate that sometimes the greatest enemies of the American Way of Life are right here at home.
Stay tuned… a vote on this rules change is expected soon.
Bridgeport, Malloy, Paul Vallas, School Governance Councils, Stefan Pryor, Steven Adamowski Bridgeport, Malloy, Paul Vallas, School Governance Councils, Stefan Pryor, Steven Adamowski, Windham
Back when it was Dan Malloy, instead of Dannel, the candidate running for governor said that increasing parental involvement in schools, especially through the utilization of Connecticut’s school governance councils was a high priority. In fact, candidate Dan Malloy even said he’d take the concept of school governance councils statewide, instead of just requiring them in poorer school districts.
When Governor Malloy pushed through his “education reform” bill, he failed to even try to make school governance councils a state-wide requirement but he did increase their role in the state’s 30 (poorer) Alliance School Districts.
Malloy’s bill required that school governance councils be given the opportunity to; (1) to review the fiscal objectives of the draft budget for the school and provide advice before it was submitted, (2) participate in the hiring process of administrators, (3) work with school administration to develop and approve a school compact, (4) be involved in developing and approving a written parent involvement policy outlining the role of parents in the school, (5) participate in analyzing school achievement data and school needs relative to the improvement plan for the school, (6) assist the principal in making programmatic and operational changes for improving the school’s achievement and the list goes on.
But Bridgeport’s “Superintendent of Schools,” Paul Vallas apparently didn’t want to be bothered with having to follow the school governance council laws, so he apparently implemented his programs, policies and decisions without fulfilling his legal obligation to cooperate with Bridgeport’s parents and their governance councils.
According to people directly involved in Bridgeport schools, Mr. Vallas hired 7 principals and major school administrators without following the school governance laws, including the principals of Central, Harding, Bassick, Curiale, Beardsley, the new Military Academy and an assistant principal at Hooker schools.
And the list of alleged violations goes on, including Vallas’ wholesale disregard for school governance council participation in the budget process…but then again… he failed to properly include the Bridgeport Board of Education as well.
Now one would think that, considering that the school governance council laws were signed by Governor Malloy, his Commissioner of Education, Stefan Pryor, would be especially vigilant in taking on the responsibility of forcing Mr. Vallas to follow Connecticut’s school governance law.
But Stefan Pryor is the one who invited Paul Vallas to take the job in Bridgeport and apparently, rather than fulfill his legal duties, Pryor left the task of dealing with the issue to the Connecticut Education Association, who were forced to file a legal complaint about Vallas’ violations.
Well, now comes the news, via the Connecticut Post, that on Thursday, Commissioner of Education Stefan Pryor, “dismissed a complaint filed on behalf of the Bridgeport Education Association against Bridgeport Schools Superintendent Paul Vallas because he said all local remedies have not been exhausted.”
As the Connecticut Post reported, “In a letter mailed Thursday to [Bridgeport Board of Education] BEA President Gary Peluchette, Pryor said in addition to showing that remedies had been exhausted at the local level, the union had to specify when the complaint was brought to the Board of Education.”
Pryor added, “You did not indicate that this matter was brought to the board for consideration or that the board has taken any adverse action with respect to your complaint,” said Pryor.
And then, in an incredible and impressive act of supreme arrogance, the CT Post reported that “ in his letter to the union leader, [Pryor] said he takes the matter seriously, and he said it is important that school governance councils, which include parents, teachers and members of the community, are appropriately implemented.”
So Pryor thinks it’s important to include parents and school governance councils (ah, it’s not just important, it is the law!), but Pryor won’t do anything about it, despite his role as Commissioner of Education, unless the local union jumps through a series of hoops that will delay any possible action on the part of the commissioner.
It is hard to imagine that Commissioner Pryor or his staff would even include such an insulting and absurd comment into their rejection letter. Do they think the fact that they are hypocrites doesn’t shine through?
The fact that the union had to bring the complaint at all is is proof that Malloy and Pryor are content with saying one thing, but doing another when it comes to including parents in public education.
The evidence that Vallas has failed to fulfill his obligations under the School Governance Laws is plain on its face and Commissioner Pryor could and should be taking immediate action to force Vallas to back up and do things the right way.
Instead, for Pryor to say what he has said is nothing short of what was in the Daily News headline in 1975 following President Ford’s rejection of New York City when they wrote Ford to City: Drop Dead:
You can read the full CT Post story here: http://www.ctpost.com/local/article/Pryor-dismisses-complaint-against-Vallas-4563403.php#ixzz2UzgmsOXa
Oh and should Malloy and Pryor reverse course and decide they really meant what they said about parent involvement, they need to act with just as much haste in Windham and New London where Steven Adamowski is making a complete and utter joke out of Connecticut’s school governance laws.
Carmen Lopez Bridgeport, Carmen Lopez
Carmen Lopez, the retired Connecticut judge, life-long Bridgeport resident and leading voice in opposition to the on-going attempt to destroy public education in Connecticut has written a “must read” column in the Connecticut Post.
It is an elegant and moving explanation about why we are fighting so hard against the likes of Malloy, Finch, Pryor and Vallas.
In fact, it is right up there with two profound quotes that I keep on my desk:
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” – Margaret Mead
“First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.” – Mahatma Gandhi
And from Judge Lopez, a piece that is equally powerful, profound and worth keeping on your desk along with the observations from Margaret Mead and Gandhi.
Carmen L. Lopez: Dissent in a democracy
Across the city of Bridgeport, citizens are talking about the fact that our local ship of state has run aground. As has occurred in the past, the mayor and his allies are working tirelessly to centralize power in the hands of a few. Democracy is messy, and the mayor is determined to tidy up anyone or anything that falls outside of his view of the world.
When legitimate concerns and complaints are raised, the entrenched political and economic powers in our city are quick to demonize opponents. The machinery to produce a whisper campaign of deceit, innuendos and half-truths is immediately put into action.
Nowhere is this unfortunate and dangerous trend more visible than with the approach that Bill Finch, Kenneth Moales, Paul Vallas and their supporters are taking when it comes to Bridgeport’s democratically elected Board of Education members.
Dissent is met with what can only be described as vicious and inappropriate personal attacks.
For those of us who respect and believe in the most fundamental values of our nation are reminded of the famous newsman Edward R. Murrow, who said, “We must not confuse dissent with disloyalty. When the loyal opposition dies, I think the soul of America dies with it.”
In fact, human history tells us that when dissent is eliminated, the most regressive forms of government are allowed to arise.
I am not, nor have I ever been, a member of the Working Families Party. However, as a resident and taxpayer of Bridgeport, I find the actions of the Board of Education members who have been elected on the Working Families Party line to be refreshing and desperately needed in Bridgeport.
They are independent, they ask questions and they are not beholden to the network of private and governmental interests that hold our city captive and in fear of speaking truth.
The Finch administration and its supporters have implemented their whisper campaign machinery to suggest that the Working Families Party “controls” four members of the Board of Education.
The claim is absurd.
The Board of Education has nine democratically elected members. Six members were elected as Democrats and three were elected on the Working Families Party line.
Having watched the board during these turbulent times, I can attest to the fact that unlike five Democratic members of the board who vote as a bloc and are rubber stamps for the Finch administration, Paul Vallas and the Democratic machine, the three Working Family Party members and one of the Democrats tackle their roles with exactly the type of independence and intelligence that we so desperately need.
Any attempt to expose bloc voting on the Board of Education must only look to the five Democrats on the board, several of whom are highly educated in academic affairs. Indeed one is a professor at a university, one is an attorney and another is a graduate of a divinity school.
However, this high level of education does not stop them from voting blindly to support whatever Finch and Vallas propose.
Sadly, we live in a city controlled by a Democratic Party machine, which has always, and can always, count on the silent complicity of the Republican Party to act as its wholly owned subsidiary.
A healthy two-party system means that questions are asked at public meetings, and answered. A vibrant two-party system creates the conditions to hold public officials accountable for the decisions made on behalf of residents and taxpayers.
Tragically, the two-party system in place in Bridgeport is in a state of desperate decay, which has brought about the destruction of any semblance of democracy for the residents of this once vibrant city.
What exists in its place is the Finch machine.
A machinery supported by sycophants, private law firms, and business interests who manage and manipulate the members of the City Council, and the delegation to the House of Representatives and the state Senate.
Given that a significant percentage of Bridgeport’s elected city and state officials, and/or members of their families are employed by the city and/or the Board of Education, it is no wonder that the residents of the city are fed up and disgusted to watch the parade of kept men and women of a disgraced political machine strut their stuff on the taxpayer dime.
One need only look at the venomous opposition hurled at Rep. Jack Hennessy in his quest to slay the dragons of conflict of interest on the City Council for evidence of the dire state of affairs in the city of Bridgeport.
In these challenging and oppressive times, we do not need more people asking fewer questions, but rather fewer people asking no questions.
We need to take to heart Albert Einstein’s admonition that “if I were to remain silent, I’d be guilty of complicity.”
And we must never plead guilty to complicity by silence.
Here is the link to Lopez’s commentary piece in the Connecticut Post: http://www.ctpost.com/opinion/article/Carmen-L-Lopez-Dissent-in-a-democracy-4558451.php#ixzz2UmNruTi2