Thanks to Linda from CT for this article:
Removing the mask from Bridgeport education reformers
Published 5:00 p.m., Wednesday, July 18, 2012
There is always more than meets the eye, particularly when a mask camouflages a hidden agenda.
Excel Bridgeport, a new education reform group, describes itself in flattering terms on its website. It announces:
“1. We want every child in Bridgeport to have the opportunity for a world class education;
2. We build knowledge in our community;
3. We empower community members to be leaders;
4. We partner with the district and hold them accountable.”
Who can disagree with the noble and laudable activity of empowering parents, building knowledge and accountability?
However, a look behind the mask reveals a different and disturbing reality.
Empowering parents, building knowledge and improving urban schools are not new ideas. Twenty years ago, the Bridgeport Futures Collaborative, a Casey-funded initiative, successfully established parent training programs. When Bridgeport Futures ceased operation, parent training was carried on by the Bridgeport Child Advocacy Coalition (BCAC), which continues to the present day. Also, groups such as the Child Guidance Center worked tirelessly to help parents remain involved in their children’s education.
Excel Bridgeport recently celebrated its one-year anniversary. It wants to head the parade of education reformers and consign established organizations to a subordinate role.
Anyone following the “reform efforts” currently ravaging the Bridgeport school district must have noticed the ubiquitous presence of Excel Bridgeport staff at government meetings. The executive director spoke before the City Council regarding charter revision. She urged the City Council to approve the mayor’s proposal for an appointed board of education rather than one elected by the people.
I guess that is how we empower parents.
The executive director addressed a recent Board of Education meeting urging the board to extend Superintendent Paul Vallas‘ contract, while heaping obsequious praise on him.
A quick look behind the Excel mask reveals the reason for the praise and source of the tentacles reaching into the City of Bridgeport under the banner of Excel.
According to the website, in addition to Lowney and Snow, the current Excel board of directors includes the following individuals: Jonathan Hayes, Joel Green, Robert Francis, Carl HortonJr. and Joseph McGee.
Lowney serves in multiple capacities in and around Fairfield County. She is the principal of a consulting company, known as the Ripple Effect, executive director of the Zoom Foundation, aSteve Mandel-funded foundation, and the director of an entity known as Leadership Development Roundtable in Fairfield.
Those of you familiar with the state takeover of the city’s elected Board of Education on July 5, 2011, will recognize her as the “conspirator-in-chief” of the coup that led to the illegal removal of a democratically elected Board of Education by the state.
The now-infamous email exchange circulated among state officials began on Jan. 11, 2011, with an email introduction by Alex Johnston, the former head of ConnCan and education reformer extraordinaire, to Lowney and Allan Taylor, the chair of the state Board of Education.
In her first email to Taylor, Lowney confided, “A small group of us are strategizing a Bridgeport charter revision campaign that would result in mayoral control of the schools. This is a confidential conversation of course.”
So much for building knowledge in the community!
Nathan Snow currently serves as the president of the board of directors. He is the paid executive director of the Connecticut chapter of Teach for America, a major player in the national education reform effort of the rich and famous.
Bridgeporters will remember that he ran unsuccessfully for a seat on the Board of Education in 2009. After the election results were final, he set about trying to clandestinely defeat through bureaucratic machinations those who had defeated him in a free and open election.
Robert Francis, a shoreline resident, is a nonprofit guru and serves as the executive director of RYASAP. The school takeover has proven to be very advantageous for RYASAP; it has just entered into a long-term contract with the Vallas-led Board of Education, a contract negotiated before an elected board consisting exclusively of Bridgeport residents can scrutinize it.
So much for transparency and accountability!
Still hidden behind another mask is the funding source for Excel, although one could surmise that billionaire hedge fund operator Steve Mandel and the Lone Pine Foundation are actively involved.
Shakespeare said that the entire world is a stage and all that glitters is not gold.
Watch carefully, as the masks are removed in the next act of the Excel production!