Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Education progressives win big in Bridgeport, vs. machine Democrats and Paul Vallas allies

That was a busy week for New York City education.
First, there was Bill deBlasio's 40 percent primary victory in the Democratic mayoral primary (& UFT/Thompson's clinging to wish for a divisive run-off). Second, there was the whistleblower Francesco Portelos 3020(a) termination case at the Department of Education at 49 Chambers Street.
Other big news: in the progressives, the real reformers of education, for the people, for public education, against charter schools/privatizing profiteering, won big in Tuesday Board of Education elections in Bridgeport, the largest city in Connecticut.

This in from the Working Families Party of New York:

And in Bridgeport, Connecticut, in a truly astonishing result, a slate of Working Families-backed progressives swept the elections for the Board of Education against the "No Child Left Untested" corporate-funded education "reform" machine Democrats. We had the Connecticut Education Association, Diane Ravitch and some great volunteers. They had the privatizer-in-chief Paul Vallas. A very sweet win indeed, given the havoc he wreaked in Chicago, New Orleans, Philadelphia, Haiti...

You can read more on the dramatic electoral events up there in Jonathan Pelto's "Education Reform Industry goes down to stunning defeat in Bridgeport." His analysis:
In many respects the primary was really a referendum on the education reform efforts of Governor Malloy, Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch, Malloy’s Commissioner of Education, Stefan Pryor and Bridgeport’s faux superintendent of schools, Paul Vallas.

The three endorsed candidates were supporters of Mayor Bill Finch’s failed attempt, last year, to change Bridgeport’s City Charter to do away with a democratically elected board of education and replace it with one appointed by Finch. Simon Castillo was the chairman of the political action committee that spent a record amount in the failed referendum campaign and Brandon Clark, a teacher the charter school, at Achievement First – Bridgeport, essentially served as one of the referendum campaign’s spokesman.

The reputation of the existing majority on the Board of Education, including its chairman, Kenneth Moales Jr. and their support for Paul Vallas was a driving force behind the challenges.
Read more of Pelto's article here.

The besting of the Vallas forces even drew the attention of the Atlantic Magazine: "Did This Little Election Strike a Big Blow to Education Reform? Progressives and unions say a primary in Connecticut last week shows momentum is turning against the corporate-backed charter-school movement."

Alas, Pelto's most recent story says, "Mayor Finch will hold onto Vallas as long as he can."