Education Matters

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Vallas & Pryor hold court in a Bpt church basement on school reform

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BRIDGEPORT — Before he caught a 8:20 pm train to DC to testify on education reform, still Interim Schools Superintendent Paul Vallas spent more than an hour with Commissioner of Education Stefan Pryor in the basement of the Mount Aery Baptist Church Tuesday evening explaining the state’s new education reform law and how it will impact Bridgeport.

Pryor told the largely appreciative crowd of more than 70 people that the city was virtually the epicenter of the state’s efforts, which will include teacher tenure reform, focus on the state’s 25 worst performing schools and a hands on approach from the commissioner and state department of education. He couldn’t bring himself to say outright that ‘yes, the district is going to get a $3.5 million bailout from the state.’ Instead, he said a solution will be forthcoming when the legislature reconvenes to fill in the details to the state’s 2012-13 budget plan.

Vallas told the crowd he is “one implementer bill away” from carrying out his school reform plan.  After both talked about the bill and each other — Pryor went into detail about Vallas’ fear of flying and Vallas talked about Pryor’s help when the two went to Haiti after the 2010 earthquake — they took questions from the audience.

Vallas was asked about his plans to cut 48 positions from the district even after he got closed to what he asked for from the state and city. Vallas said he is trying to “right size” the district and suggested that some of the services that guidance staff do now in the high schools, would be picked up by community agencies like RYASAP, Americorps and college students. Not sure if they are planning to do all this for free.

That has a number of teachers in the district up in arms. Many say the district doesn’t have enough teachers and that the district’s 40 percent drop out rate won’t solve itself by replacing trained counselors with untrained, non-permanent volunteers or college students. On top of that, many teachers are saying they are getting no information from the administration on the changes underway.

What do you think? Will Vallas be here long enough to get anything done? Do you think what he and the state are proposing will do anything to reduce the achievement gap?

Let me know.

Categories: General
Linda Lambeck

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5 Responses

  1. Sue says:

    Well, in a conference call with school administrators he told them that SAT meetings will now be referred to as SRBI meetings. SAT/SRBI is the process in which teachers refer struggling students to a group of school specialists who then brainstorm interventions and follow results.

    Vallas now wants these meetings to be chaired by the guidance counselors. Educational interventions are not why they were hired – and at the same time he wants to lay some of them off.

    This makes absolutely no sense – it’s almost falls in the category of ‘bizzaro-world’.

  2. Maria says:

    Hi all!
    Well there is so much true behind Mr. Vallas history and his followers, why nobody is stopping them? Don’t you know about all the lawsuits he left behind on those states? And now he is here in Bridgeport with his friends, he will get the money he is asking for to “fix” our school system and he will move on to his next assigment. I would hired an educator to take care our sick school system, fired everybody that does’t have an educational background. Now he wants a bunch of crazy parents running the schools, hello, let parents be engaged but isn’t right for them to tell teachers or principals how they should run a school

  3. Doin' What I Can says:

    School climate in this district is at an all-time low. With somewhat of an inside perspective, many quality teachers are have expressed their extreme discouragement by the approach by which changes are occurring. Many feel unsupported and have resorted to just trying to survive. Seemingly random changes such as this new June test and sudden moving around of administrators are being imposed upon teachers. Dedicated teachers are looking for jobs elsewhere. How can our schools be learning communities with staff instability? Who are these teachers going to be replaced with? “Nontraditional” personnel? Teach for America teachers? We need security and stability for anything effective to be implemented with sustained success.

    Cutting teachers and counselors will never help. Class size is a factor in the effectiveness of the learning that happens. Right now the ratio of counselors to students is 1:300+. That is unacceptable for a district where the dropout rate is hovering around 40%. Yet there have been some curious appointments and hirings that are quite questionable. Just wonder what will happen when the old board comes back…

  4. G.D. Flye says:

    This is more doubletalk from vallas. He is spending money on consulstants who probably work for some company he controls. And he is gong to replace skilled guidence counselors with college students? This is not “for the children” as he claims…. We don’t have enough teachers as it is and this creep is going to cut teachers. GET RID OF HIM NOW! AND TELL FINCH TO RESIGN NOW!

  5. D says:

    Vallas has a history of destroying school systems, not helping them, and it looks like Bridgeport is next on the list.

    How can he think that college students and community groups can fill the shoes of trained, experienced, certified counselors? How does he expect discipline and order to be maintained in the high school with less assistant principals? How can he do two jobs at once? Does he really think that cutting teachers will help students? There aren’t enough teachers now – high school students have half schedules now. What happens when there are less teachers? What happens when he has schools over book classes “because the numbers usually do down” and then they don’t? Will he “bump” students to another school, extra year in school, etc. like an airline passenger getting bumped?

    He does not seem to have any idea on how to improve education and is destroying the school system in Bridgeport. He will make it worse, not better.