Robert Francis: Loss of Vallas threat...

Robert Francis: Loss of Vallas threatens progress for Bridgeport schools

Posted in the Trumbull Forum


Edison, NJ

#1 Jul 18, 2013
Who is for the children?

A small group of adults in Bridgeport set out about 12 months ago to remove Paul Vallas as the superintendent of schools in Bridgeport. This past week, barring a Connecticut Supreme Court reversal, they will have succeeded in bringing his tenure in Bridgeport to an end. My questions is, "but toward what end?" What is their plan to improve the Bridgeport public schools? If not education reform, which they oppose, what would they do? They did not like Sonia Diaz Salcedo; they did not like John Ramos and they do not like Paul Vallas -- more than 10 years of opposition to leadership in the Bridgeport public schools.

Paul Vallas may not fit the letter of the Connecticut general statutes, but is he qualified through his experience to be a superintendent? A man who was superintendent in Chicago, New Orleans and Philadelphia is not qualified to be a superintendent in Bridgeport? John Ramos and Sonia Diaz Salcedo were fully certified to be a superintendent in Bridgeport, but many of the same people who worked so hard to bring Paul Vallas down also did the same to bring them down. What is their goal? What is their plan? If it is to disrupt the education process in Bridgeport, halleluiah, they are a success. If it is to improve education for our children, they are failing.

How long do people think it takes to turn around a school system with so many failing schools? Certainly not 18 months. At the Yale Education Reform Conference in April I sat in on a panel of some of the top educators in the country and they were asked how many of them could name an American urban school system that had demonstrated dramatic gains in all schools. The answer was not a single one, with Long Beach, Calif., the only one even coming close. They all knew of individual schools and in some cities, clusters of schools, but not one of them knew of a single city that was entirely reformed. What they demonstrated by their answers was that this is incredibly difficult work and demands exceptional leadership and commitment from the entire community.

I would like to echo Board of Education member and long-time community service leader Tom Mulligan and reiterate some of the successes of the past 18 months. Yes, that is all it has been -- 18 months since Paul Vallas and his team took over in Bridgeport, and here are nine of the 18 improvements Tom listed:

He erased a $15 million deficit and just submitted his second balanced budget in a row.

He purchased new science, math and language arts textbooks for every single student in the Bridgeport public schools, something that had not been done in recent history.

He gained access to computers for every high school student in the Bridgeport public schools.

He tore down one rat infested K-8 school and another marked by major contaminants and will soon start construction on two new schools to replace them.

He is opening three new inter-district magnet high schools and a first-responder high school in September.

He is implementing a comprehensive teacher and principal evaluation process as well as principal leadership training.

He instituted a standardized Common Core curriculum.

He has implemented new programs in the schools to assure that students with behavioral problems and other challenges get vital community services to give them the ability to learn.

All of this has occurred in a very short 18 months, all the while being under extreme fire from people who wanted him removed from his job.


Since: Jan 08

Location hidden

#2 Jul 22, 2013
Paul Vallas may not fit the letter of the Connecticut general statutes, but is he qualified through his experience to be a superintendent?
But, inconveniently, the letter of the law IS what matters at the present time - and what's making it inconvenient is that The Bridgeport Political Machine didn't take the law into account when they fastened-upon this guy. Had they done so, either the requirement would have been dumbed-down sufficiently to ignore his lack of credentialing OR he would have properly started the required process to GET the credential before attaining the job.

I can't but think that TBPM and he knew well of each other quite a while before he came here (otherwise they're plain idiots for grabbing someone 'out of the blue'). The 'plain idiot' factor starts looking more obvious since they apparently (if I read it right in the paper) let him cheese-through the thirteen-month course, online, at an extraordinary rate, submitting very little 'work' for the course, not meeting with advisors but over the phone, AND letting him do it all (were city-paid subordinates involved?) on 'company time'.

Leave. Do the course the RIGHT WAY, come back and take the job if you pass the course honestly.

A lovely article:

Stratford, CT

#3 Jul 23, 2013
Now where did you get that idea?

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