Bridgeport Teachers To BOE: It’s Time To Stop The Nonsense & Work Together

I think it’s safe to say that political gridlock is nothing new for the Bridgeport Board of Education.  However, last Monday night’s school board meeting, where a majority of the 4 ½ hour meeting was spent bickering over ‘points of order’ and whether BOE members should receive hand delivered committee packets, illustrated a sad new low.

It’s not just me saying this — today the Connecticut Post published a letter signed by a group of teachers, all past winners of the prestigious Theodore and Margaret Beard Excellence in Teaching Education Award to the Bridgeport Board of Education, who say they’ve had enough of the “time-wasting minutia” that’s held the district back:

“We are in a precious time for education nationally and locally.

Now, more than ever, we need our Board of Education to lead us into the next chapter of Connecticut public education. However, the current state of our board is one of chaos and disarray.

As concerned Bridgeport teachers, we can no longer stay silent. When a board meeting lasts 4.5 hours, like the Feb. 22 meeting, and the only student-related matter resolved is the approval of the 2016-17 school calendar, there is a problem.

Linda Lambeck, of the Connecticut Post, tweeted at the end of that meeting: “4 & ½ hrs & the most time was spent arguing over the way the agenda reads, committee notice filings & why Pereira can’t get home delivery.”

This time-wasting minutia is a disservice and an insult to the students, teachers, and families of Bridgeport.

Time is the most valuable of all resources, and our board is wasting ours by discussing matters of little importance to student achievement.

Adding insult to injury, Bridgeport has one of the most progressive and effective superintendents in Fran Rabinowitz that we’ve seen in many years and instead of working with her to improve the education of Bridgeport’s children, the board would rather deal with erroneous claims of contract legality and clashing egos.

What kind of a message is this sending to prospective superintendent candidates? We want to attract top educational talent to our district.

Alas, who would honestly want to work with such a dysfunctional group willingly?

What is even more upsetting is that we teachers are also perceived as dysfunctional because our board is the public face of the Bridgeport school district. We are writing to say we reject this negative label. The board does not represent our work ethic.

There are amazing, professional, dedicated teachers and administrators in Bridgeport that deserve from our own Board of Education the same respect we give our students and families, even when it may be difficult.

It’s time to stop the nonsense and work together to improve education in this city by uniting against our shared enemy: funding…

We are concerned about potential funders that may be looking to invest in Bridgeport Public Schools. Funders look for boards who can work together to solve problems. They want to see their money being put to good use. We fear that if the current dysfunction becomes commonplace, we will be scaring funders and resource providers to other districts who have their priorities in order.

The way a school board conducts itself sets a tone and provides a model for the way it wants its teachers and students to behave. Do you want us to be unprofessional too? Good thing we know better.

A dysfunctional Board of Education is a danger to the very community it serves. We are at a crossroads in Bridgeport. Our students look to their parents and teachers for guidance. Parents and teachers are looking to principals and the superintendent to guide us in the right direction. We are all watching the Board of Education. The role their leadership will have during this critical moment in Bridgeport’s history cannot be understated.

While we certainly cannot speak for all stakeholders in Bridgeport Public Schools, as teacher leaders in this district we are asking you for common courtesy. We are asking you to put your personal agendas aside and get your act together. You have a responsibility to the students, teachers and families of Bridgeport to improve the education in this city…”

To read the full letter, here is a link to the Connecticut Post’s website.



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