Archives for category: Vallas, Paul

Governor Pat Quinn of Illinois surprised many people by choosing Paul Vallas as his running mate for re-election.

Vallas once headed the Chicago schools. He headed the Philadelphia schools, where he launched a major experiment in privatization, which was widely judged a failure. He left Philadelphia with a large deficit. He then was selected to take over the New Orleans district after Hurricane Katrina. Public education was almost wiped out, along with the teachers’ union. Vallas took credit for installing the largest privately managed charter system in the nation. After a brief stint in Haiti, Vallas landed in Bridgeport, where he had a rocky relationship with the local community. He left before getting a judgement on whether he held the proper qualifications to be superintendent of the Bridgeport schools, since he lacked Connecticut-required credentials.

Given this background, read what Governor Quinn said in an interview:

“Q: Paul Vallas supports charter schools. Since you picked him as a lieutenant governor, does that mean you’re open to charter expansion?

“A: No, Paul Vallas believes in public education. So do I. We believe in funding public education. A very, very important issue this year, we’ll be talking about that soon. … He’s committed to a fair, open budget to properly fund education.”

One way to read this brief exchange is that Governor Quinn knows that the wind is blowing towards supporting public schools, not charter schools. It will be interesting to see what Vallas says.

Connecticut blogger Jonathan Pelto has breaking news that Bridgeport’s embattled superintendent of schools, Paul Vallas, is leaving Bridgeport to become Illinois Governor Quinn’s running mate.

Newsflash: Illinois Gov. Quinn taps Paul Vallas for running mate

“Gov. Pat Quinn apparently has made an unexpected choice for his running mate for lieutenant governor: Paul Vallas, the former Chicago Public Schools chief and an ex-candidate for governor himself.”

More at Jonathan Pelto’s Wait, What? website:  http://jonathanpelto.com/2013/11/08/newsflash-illinois-gov-quinn-taps-paul-vallas-running-mate/

This is an article that appears in the newsletter of the Connecticut Association of School Administrators. I can’t give a link because it is part of a pdf. I am working on learning how to insert a pdf into the blog but have not mastered it yet. Give me time. The article was written by attorney John M. Gesmonde.   Gesmonde, a graduate of Columbia University and the University of Connecticut Law School, is the legal counsel for the Connecticut Association of School Administrators (CASA).

PRYOR AND VALLAS ADD NEW MEANING TO “TURNAROUND” AND “EDUCATION ACHIEVEMENT GAP”

Commissioner of Education, Stefan Pryor, and Paul Vallas, Superintendent of Schools of the Bridgeport School District, have a lot in common (besides their goatees). Both received harsh performance evaluations in their most recent jobs; Vallas, as Budget Director of the City of Chicago, and Pryor as the Deputy Mayor for Economic Development in the City of Newark. On the bright side, neither position had much to do with education; then again, how did these individuals manage to get appointed to the highest and second highest positions in education in Connecticut? Neither has any experience running a classroom1, never mind a school district or the credentials for being the top educational leader of the State of Connecticut.

Neither of these likeable gentlemen have even so much as a certification to be a classroom teacher, not mention a superintendent of schools or commissioner of education. Their educational “achievement gap” could not be any greater relative to the positions they hold, and a lot of important people must have had to “turnaround” to miss that these two emperors of education had no clothes on, and still don’t.

Mr. Vallas was appointed by a Bridgeport Board of Education that, despite support from Governor Malloy and his chief legal counsel, Andrew MacDonald, the Supreme Court of Connecticut held had been taken over illegally by appointees of the state board of education.

Malloy and McDonald then tried to nullify that Supreme Court decision by slipping language into a bill, ironically, proffered to correct supposed educational faults or evils.

According to the Hartford Courant, “the Malloy administration’s proposed legal fix for the Bridgeport takeover amounts to two sentences inserted half way through a 163-page package of education reforms. It targets the situation in Bridgeport particularly by validating any board takeover after July 1, 2010, regardless of whether there was training (of the board members) or not.” Well, eventually a new Board was seated lawfully and not too long after that another lawsuit was commenced to remove Mr. Vallas once and for all due to his lack of superintendent certification and, amazingly, for his failure to fulfill the mini requirements for an exemption from that certification. Vallas was once again supported by the Governor, the Bridgeport Mayor, Bill Finch, and his long-time friend, Commissioner Pryor, who personally testified in court on Vallas’ behalf. Judge Bellis heard the case in Superior Court and rendered a decision deposing Vallas for lack of certification, lack of exemption in lieu thereof, and because he overstayed the statutory welcome mat for acting superintendents.

Vallas has appealed the decision to the Supreme Court of Connecticut, which has already lifted the order that Vallas be immediately removed from his office, allowing Vallas, the “acting” superintendent, to stay put until the Supreme Court hears the case in chief on September 23, 2013.

Meanwhile, Governor Malloy’s chief counsel, Andrew McDonald, who unsuccessfully tried to thwart the Supreme Court’s previous decision reversing the illegitimate state usurpation of the Bridgeport Board of Education, was rewarded by Governor Malloy with an appointment to the Supreme Court . . . small world.

Vallas was invited by his friend and colleague, Stefan Pryor, the newly appointed Commissioner of Education, to Connecticut in December of 2011 to appraise the City of Bridgeport Public School System.2

At that time, §10-157 of the Connecticut General Statutes set forth in pertinent part the following:

 a)     . . . (N)o person shall assume the duties and responsibilities of the superintendent until the Board receives written confirmation from the Commissioner of Education that the person to be employed is properly certified or has had such certification waived by the commissioner pursuant to subsection (c) of this section. . . .

b)     A local or regional board of education may appoint as acting superintendent a person who is or is not properly certified for a specified period of time, not to exceed ninety days, with the approval of the Commissioner of Education… provided such period of time may be extended with the approval of the commissioner, which he shall grant for good cause shown.

c)     The Commissioner may, upon request of an employing local or regional board of education, grant a waiver of certification to a person (1) who has successfully completed at least three years of experience as a certified administrator with a superintendent certificate issued by another state in a public school in another state during the ten-year period prior to the date of application, or (2) who the Commissioner deems to be exceptionally qualified for the position of superintendent. In order for the Commissioner to find a person exceptionally qualified, such person shall (A) be an acting superintendent pursuant to subsection (b) of this section, (B)have worked as a superintendent in another state for no fewer than fifteen years, and (C) be certified or have been certified as a superintendent by such other state.”

Vallas had never taken any graduate courses in education and was not certified as a superintendent in Connecticut. No problem, Pryor simply introduced Vallas to the then Chairman of the Bridgeport Board of Education who dutifully “turn(ed) around” and formally requested of Pryor that Vallas be appointed as acting superintendent for 90 days commencing January 1, 2012. That letter was immediately followed by a second letter requesting an extension of that appointment for another 9 months from April 1, 2012 to December 31, 2012.3

The most Pryor could have extended the probationary period without violating §10-157 of the Connecticut General Statutes was for another ninety (90) days. Both written requests were contemporaneously approved by Pryor on December 23, 2011, effectively giving Vallas not only an illegal one (1) year appointment, but instant just cause for the extension of the initial term before he had even started it.  So much for the highest educational official in the state implementing the educational interests of the state. 4

By some remarkable coincidence, while Vallas was still acting as a superintendent, subsections (b) and (c) of §10-157 of the Connecticut General Statutes became significantly amended, effective July 1, 2012, by Public Act 12-116:

(b) A local or regional board of education may appoint as acting superintendent a person who is or is not properly certified for a probationary period, not to exceed one school year, with the approval of the Commissioner of Education. During such probationary period such acting superintendent . . . shall successfully complete the school leadership program, approved by the state Board of Education, offered at a public or private institution of higher education in the state. At the conclusion of the probationary period, such appointing local or regional board of education may request the Commissioner to grant a waiver of certification for such acting superintendent pursuant to subsection (c) of this section.

(c) The commissioner may, upon request by an employing local or regional board of education, grant a waiver of certification to a person (1) . . . or (2) who has successfully completed a probationary period as an acting superintendent pursuant to subsection (b) of this section, and who the Commissioner deems to be exceptionally qualified for the position of superintendent. (Note deletion of the last sentence from prior subsection (c) explicating “exceptionally qualified.”)

Pryor then approved the “piggy-back” appointment of Vallas as acting superintendent for the probationary period of January 1, 2013 to December 31, 2013 by letter dated January 23, 2013, even though, in effect, it gave Vallas an unprecedented and arguably illegal two (2) year trial period. 5

Soon afterward, Vallas contacted Dr. Robert Villanova, Director of the “Executive Leadership Program” at the University of Connecticut Neag School of Education in an effort to fulfill the statutory pre-requisite of passing a school leadership program so Pryor could give him a waiver of certification.

Unfortunately, Vallas could not qualify for the program because it had a fifteen (15) graduate credit course eligibility requirement. So, Villanova and Vallas concocted a three credit independent study course in district leadership for Vallas, which Villanova claimed, not credibly as far as the court was concerned, was necessary because the “Executive Leadership Program” was not appropriate for Vallas given Vallas’ extensive experience and time limitations. He made no mention to the court, however, of the fact that Vallas did not qualify to participate in the “Executive Leadership Program.”

Villanova testified that he had never been approached before to provide an independent study like the one worked out for Vallas. As it turned out, the actual course amounted to “Vallas and Villanova meet(ing) briefly in passing on one occasion, two meetings of about two hours long, and ( ) several telephone conversations.”

The Court found as a fact that Vallas never attended a class or in-person seminar, nor did he participate in any technology assisted discussions. The Court “explicitly” rejected the testimony of Villanova that their meetings or phone calls constituted the seminar and class sessions contemplated in the course description, and further rejected as not credible Villanova’s testimony that his telephone calls to Vallas constituted the technology assisted discussions’ as referenced in the course description.”6

“Vallas submitted six papers to complete the course . . . in rapid succession. . . .  Villanova informed Vallas within 24 hours of each submission that his papers met or exceeded expectations. Vallas submitted his last paper by email on May 30, 2013, at approximately 12:30 p.m., and Villanova submitted a final “A” grade for Vallas that same day.”7

Pryor then reported to the State Board of Education that “the UConn Neag School of Education developed an individualized, non-certification leadership program for Vallas. Based on Pryor’s representations, the State Board approved “the school leadership program offered by the University of Connecticut Neag School of Education.”8

Upon request by the Chairman of the Bridgeport Board of Education, Pryor then granted Vallas a waiver, having determined that he had completed his probationary period (two times, in fact) and an approved leadership program by the State Board of Education.

The Court was not pleased. It was apparent that the State Board of Education had been duped. The Court found that “the State Board of Education approved what they believed was a UConn approved program, with requirements of classes, seminars, and technology assisted discussions that simply did not take place. This independent study course was not an UConn approved program; and the course Vallas completed was not the program the State Board of Education approved.”9

In short, Vallas, Villanova of the UConn Neag School of Education, and Pryor, the Commissioner of Education, participated in a “sham” designed to circumvent the already watered down strictures of §10-157 (which, it may be recalled, was amended to remove the minimum criteria required for the commissioner to apply before granting to “would be” superintendents a waiver of certification) and the State Board of Education presumably, unwittingly fell for it.

Because Vallas did not complete a school leadership program, it was wrong for Pryor to have issued him a waiver of certification pursuant to §10-157(c); that is, Mr. Pryor’s waiver to accommodate Mr. Vallas was invalid, and the Court so held, and further “order(ed) that Paul Vallas be removed from his office.10

Déjà Vu All Over Again

On July 9, 1984, when newspapers were thicker and cost 25 cents, the New Haven Board of Education voted, upon recommendation of its superintendent, John Dow, Jr., to eliminate ten administrative positions, thereby jeopardizing the status and pay of ten school administrators. Upon further recommendation of John Dow, Jr., the New Haven Board of Education voted to commence dismissal proceedings against nine (9) other school administrators. Then, on September 21, 1984, John Dow, Jr. dropped a bombshell. He conceded that he was not certified as a superintendent when he was hired, or at any time thereafter, up to and through July 9, 1984 when the havoc he had wreaked against New Haven school administrators was approved by the board.

Judge Lester Aaronson granted the plaintiff administrators request for a permanent injunction enjoining the adverse employment actions of the superintendent.

Connecticut’s certification system is absolutely necessary to ensure that properly trained, qualified individuals serve in Connecticut’s school systems. This is especially so for superintendents who serve as the chief executive officer of the local board of education and who wield the executive authority over the school system. To have permitted Dr. Dow’s illegal employment relationship and his actions to stand would have rendered the state certification system a nullity.

Mr. Vallas also attempted to effectuate the demotion of administrators when he first became the superintendent in Bridgeport, but the illegality went deeper. It permeated the school district. The Board was illegally replaced by a state appointed board; a superintendent was hired by that Board in violation of the certification laws, which were sought to be amended twice for improper motives, once successfully, for the convenience of Mr. Vallas to serve, not as a certified superintendent, but as a superintendent exempted from the certification laws.

Unlike the New Haven situation, Mr. Vallas was facilitated by the commissioner of education and Mr. Robert Villanova, Director of the “Executive Leadership Program” at the University of Connecticut Neag School of Education and Tom DeFranco, the Dean of the University of Connecticut Neag School of Education.

Pryor and the University of Connecticut Neag School of Education are integrally involved in implementing educational reform in Connecticut, in part by bestowing waivers upon certain school districts from components of the Connecticut Guidelines for Educator Evaluation and Support and from the PEAC implementation plan.

Judge Bellis, who rendered the decision in Lopez v. Bridgeport Board of Education, was not fooled by the concerted efforts of those persons who sought to accomplish illegally that which could not be accomplished legally.

As the late Justice Felix Frankfurter stated, “And there comes a point when the courts should not be ignorant as judges of what we know as men.”11

(And, it may be added, “or women.”)

Teachers, administrators and supervisors could be, and have been, fired literally on the spot if their certificates were found to be lacking or lapsed. Because the definition of “teacher” covers only “certified” teachers, administrators and supervisors, no due process, including termination hearings, need be afforded to an employee without a proper certification before summarily terminating such individual. Termination hearings are only for teachers and administrators who are properly certified.

Even if the school administrator also had a certificate as a teacher, there would be no obligation on the part of the superintendent or the board of education to employ that individual as a teacher. That person has no greater standing than someone applying for a job as a teacher in the first instance, and the board would be free to reject such application. Moreover, any salary received by a teacher or administrator who does not hold a proper certification is subject to being paid back to the school district pursuant to §10-145 of the Connecticut General Statutes.12

The Dark Cloud Cast by the Vallas Decision Over Educational Reform in Connecticut

§10-151b of the Connecticut General Statutes, as amended, requires that superintendents of each local or regional board of education not only annually evaluate or cause to be evaluated each teacher, but that such evaluations be based on, and be conducted in accordance with, evaluation plans that meet certain state requirements. There is a process, however, where by school districts may submit permutations of the state evaluation plan to the Commissioner of Education, Mr. Pryor, who has the power to grant a waiver.

The Vallas case is not only about the ethics and integrity of granting superintendent certification waivers; it is not only about failing strictly to comply with a prescribed statutory manner of proceeding when matters of substance are involved; it is not only about the deprofessionalizing of educator leaders by offering them alternatives to certification not based on credentials and relevant experience. It is not only about advertently breaking a covenant required by law to implement the mandates in the general statutes pertaining to education.

It is also about how educational policy is controlled by the politics and behind the scenes corporate style of reform. The same players and institution in the Vallas case have influential roles to play in overseeing the state’s teacher and administrator evaluation reform, exercising seemingly unfettered discretion in giving and withholding waivers from the core requirements and the implementing of the PEAC plan. The University of Connecticut Neag School of Education representatives have tremendous freedom and subjective authority to make decisions.

“While school officials in 10 districts start observing teachers this year as part of the state’s new teacher-evaluation program, someone from the University of Connecticut’s Neag School of Education will be observing them. . . . ‘Our job will be to determine if the model is being implemented the way it was intended and consistently,’ UCONN education Dean Thomas DeFranco (who also testified in the Vallas case) said. ‘The second thing we have been asked to do is to look at the validity of the model itself. Is the model working?”13

According to Thomas DeFranco, Dean of Neag:

Our role is to evaluate whether the model of teacher effectiveness developed by PEAC is being implemented with fidelity, as well as the validity of the model – that is, how well the model measures what it intends to measure.” 14

The power plays that were seen in the Vallas case may be par for the course in Chicago or Newark, but not here. The admonishment by Judge Aaronson 30 years ago in the Dow case has equal relevance to the players in the Vallas case, whose conduct has been exposed and who yet have major responsibilities with respect to the educational reform movement, whatever the decision of the supreme court in Vallas may be.

“This case involves more than a ministerial failure. The statutes clearly mandate proper certification.  These mandates are designed to protect the integrity of the school system whose aim is to inculcate respect for lawful authority.”15

Footnotes

(1)   Actually, Vallas did teach for a year at a Greek Orthodox grammar school some 35 years ago, where he had also been a student. And Pryor had a brief stint as a student teacher in New Haven when he was at Yale, over 20 years ago.

(2)  Decision, Carmen Lopez, et al v. Bridgeport of Education, et al, Docket No. CV13-6034307S, Superior Court J.D. of Fairfield at Bridgeport (June 28, 2013), p. 2..

(3)  Id., p. 4.

(4)  Section 10-4a of the Conn. Gen. Stats. identifies the four (4) educational interests of the state, the fourth of which is that “the mandates in the general statutes pertaining to education within the jurisdiction of the State Board of Education be implemented.

(5)  This presumes Vallas could have been legally re-appointed as acting superintendent and placed on a second probationary period pursuant to §10-157, as amended, by Pryor’s January 23, 2013 letter; however, there can be no doubt that from July 1, 2012 until at least the end of 2012, Vallas and Pryor were not in compliance with the new law.

(6)   Decision, p. 7.

(7)  Decision, p. 8.

(8)  Decision, p. 9 (fn 11)

(9)  Decision, p. 10.

(10) Decision, p. 27.

(11) Watts v. Indiana, 338 U.S. 49, 52 (1949).

(12) 10-145 of the Connecticut General Statutes (certification necessary to employment). Forfeiture for non-compliance . . . provides in pertinent part that “(n) o teacher, supervisor (or) administrator . . . shall be employed in any of the schools … unless such person possesses an appropriate state certificate, nor shall any such person be entitled to any salary unless such person can produce such certificate dated previous to or the first day of employment . . . .”

(13) Ctpost.com (9/7/2013).

(14)  Neag’s new role in Connecticut education reform,” by Linda Conner Lambeck, blog.ctnews.com education/2012/05/21.

(15)   Memorandum of Decision, School Administrators Association of New Haven v. Dow, Superior Court at New Haven, pp. 6,7.

We turn to our favorite Connecticut blogger, Jonathan Pelto, for an analysis of the upset win of the insurgent slate in Bridgeport. Suffice it to say that the primary was a big loss for the corporate reformers who control the state.

Step by step, the tide is turning. As the public understands what is happening, they join our struggle to save public education.

Hugh Bailey, columnist for the Connecticut Post, takes a clear-eyed look at what is called “school reform” and finds that it is full of holes.

The essential element of “reform” is that schools should be run by a non-educator.

Paul Vallas is a poster boy for that theory.

He didn’t think it was necessary to be an educator; he boasted that he was not an educator.

But Connecticut law says that superintendents must be educators.

That is a pretty big hole.

He writes:

“School reform has for more than a decade meant a headlong dash in one direction, toward more testing, less protection for teachers, more faith in miracle workers. At the heart of the debate is whether educators should be running things. It sounds like a simple enough proposition, but one of the central tenets of education reform as commonly practiced is that educators might belong in the classroom (maybe), but have no business in administration. Vallas, the admired and maligned superintendent of Bridgeport schools, personifies this debate.

Vallas is not an educator. He used to make a habit of announcing that fact as if it were a badge of honor. Even as he has led school systems in three major cities, he has never pursued an education degree.

Connecticut law, though, requires an educator as superintendent, which Vallas and his allies suddenly find to be extremely inconvenient.

But none of it should be considered accidental. Reformers are proud of the fact that their leaders aren’t educators, as if only people outside the system are clear-headed enough to knock some sense into a failing system.

This makes sense in the same way that it would be a good idea for the Yankees to hire some corporate CEO to run their baseball operations rather than someone who maybe knows a little bit about baseball.”

Bailey sees a growing resistance to this ersatz reform, despite the fact that the “reformers” have a near monopoly on money and political power:

“School reform is running into increased resistance nationally, and it doesn’t help that any number of high-profile, billionaire-backed reformers have been exposed as cheats and frauds.

“It’s a movement that may have already crested. More people are understanding that what troubled schools actually need, like real resources and integrated classrooms, are not the goals of today’s reformers. And there is a growing understanding that it is not a school but society in general that is failing too many people who live in poverty, and that to dump all the blame on teachers who are working to help those children is not only unfair but counterproductive.”

This so-called movement, fueled by power and money, is floundering. Bridgeport, Connecticut, may be one place where the movement ran into an immovable object: the law.

 

A Connecticut teacher named Linda who comments frequently on the blog decided to research the record of Paul Vallas. This is her summary:

“I have been keeping track for a while now…easy to goggle Vallas and Pelto, Ravitch, Mercedes Schneider, Philly Notebook, George Schmidt, substance news.

http://madisonamps.org/2012/05/23/who-is-paul-vallas-and-why-is-he-coming-to-madison/

Vallas launched the nation’s most extensive experiment in privatization, which was evaluated by the RAND Corporation.

Here is RAND’s report on Vallas’ foray into the “diverse provider model.”

http://www.rand.org/content/dam/rand/pubs/research_briefs/2007/RAND_RB9239.pdf

“The major findings of the analysis of achievement effects under the diverse provider model in its first four years of operation are as follows:

http://thenotebook.org/summer-2007/07119/vallas-leaves-changed-district-again-tumult

VALLAS FACTS: Philadelphia schools ‘bankrupt’? Only because austerity politics of the ruling class dictate that lies and the policies of ‘standards and accountability’ have been an expensive failure

http://www.substancenews.net/articles.php?page=4386

VALLAS FACTS: ‘The Paul Vallas I Knew’… Paul Vallas and the origins of the corporate ‘school reform’ policy to eliminate black teachers and principals in Chicago.

http://www.substancenews.net/articles.php?page=4397

VALLAS FACTS: ‘The Paul Vallas Hoax’ in the March 2002 Substance exposed every lie, half-truth, and self serving utteration of Vallas… But it took other places a decade to check out Vallas’s nonsense and try to stop his ‘school reform’ nonsense

http://www.substancenews.net/articles.php?page=4370

Indianapolis, $18 million

http://jonathanpelto.com/2012/08/13/paul-vallas-new-corporate-partnership-signs-18-million-deal-with-indianapolis-school-system/

http://www.doe.in.gov/sites/default/files/sboe/revised-reco-and-provider-info.pdf

See claims page 10 and 11:

NOLA debunked:

Here is the deception: “combined school districts” means RSD and the 17-school Orleans Parish Schools (OPSB), which was primarily magnet schools turned into selective admission charters. Attempts to make RSD look better by combining its data with that of OPSB is nothing new. See this post:

http://deutsch29.wordpress.com/2013/01/25/in-case-you-missed-it-you-really-didnt-miss-much/

Also, the “50% decrease in dropout rate” is an inflated stat; also, it does not include the fact that the definition of “dropout” was changed to exclude students who after dropping out decided to attend education programs (like night school). See this link:

http://www.thepelicanpost.org/2011/04/11/louisiana-dropout-rate-falls-31-percent/

Another word regarding Edison Learning (pg 13 of report): Jeb Bush used the Florida teacher pension money to bail out Edison, a company that never succeeded in what it said it could do: raise student scores for less money:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/leonie-haimson/chris-cerf-there-you-go-a_b_835180.html

New Orleans’ Recovery School District: The Lie Unveiled

The school- and district-level data presented in this post unequivocally demonstrates that the state-run RSD is hardly a miracle. It should be an embarrassment to any reformer insisting otherwise. And it should come as no wonder why RSD doesn’t even mention school letter grades on its website.

The history of the state-run RSD in New Orleans is one of opportunism and deceit, of information twisting and concealing, in order to promote a slick, corporate-benefitting, financially-motivated agenda. It is certainly not “for the children.”

To other districts around the nation who are considering adopting “the New Orleans miracle”:

Reread this post, and truly consider what it is that you would be getting: A lie packaged to only look appealing from afar.

http://deutsch29.wordpress.com/2013/03/05/new-orleans-recovery-school-district-the-lie-unveiled/

Paul’s program in New Orleans was not to rebuild public education after the hurricane, but to create a privatized system of schools.

The NOLA miracle that wasn’t:

http://deutsch29.wordpress.com/2013/06/29/rsds-watered-down-incremental-miracle-and-continued-fiscal-embarrassment/”

Jonathan Pelto, a blogger who is considered an “electronic graffiti” artist byPaul,Vallas, is a former Democratic legislator in Connecticut.

Here he summarizes the background of the Vallas controversy, which began when the Dannel Malloy administration dissolved the elected Bridgeport school board and engineered a state takeover. This move was challenged in court and ruled. Illegal. However, the illegal board hired Paul Vallas and gave him a three year contract.

Then a state judge ruled that Vallas lacked the legal qualifications to serve as superintendent.

The lawyer who defended the illegal state takeover is now on the state’s highest court and has refused to recuse himself from ruling on the Vallas issue.

These days, the blogosphere has become a medium for democratic expression. With so few mainstream media still in existence, blogging has become an important forum for those who have no voice.

Today’s New York Times has an article about the controversy surrounding Paul Vallas in Bridgeport. Vallas speaks contemptuously of bloggers as “electronic graffitti.”

The article speaks dismissively of the fact that Vallas does not have the credentials required by state law to be superintendent. After all, he served as superintendent in Chicago, Philadelphia, and the Recovery School District. The article failed to review how Vallas performed in those districts, while suggesting that this real-life experience should suffice to qualify him as superintendent of Bridgeport.

Is Chicago a successful district after years of control by Vallas and then Arne Duncan? Hardly.

What about Philadelphia? Vallas introduced the nation’s most sweeping privatization experiment when he was in charge, and it was a colossal failure. When he left, the city was in deficit, and it is now facing financial and educational collapse after a decade of state control.

And the Recovery School District? Its partisans, who have poured millions into privatization, keep speaking of “progress” and rapid test score gains, but fail to mention that the RSD in Louisiana is one of the state’s lowest performing districts, where at least 2/3 of the charter schools are rated D or F by the state.

Note that Secretary Duncan defends Vallas and his lack of credentials. This is not surprising because Duncan never had the credentials or education experience to be superintendent.

A reader commented on Duncan’s remarks:

The article says, “Arne Duncan, the federal education secretary, said the opposition to Mr. Vallas was ‘beyond ludicrous.’ He said too many school districts were afraid of innovation, clinging to ‘archaic ideas.’

‘This, to me, is just another painfully obvious, crystal-clear example of people caught in an old paradigm,’ Mr. Duncan said in an interview. ‘This is the tip of the iceberg.’”

“I imagine that the “old” paradigm is the one about true education: students learning and teachers teaching, based upon their philosophies, knowledge, and assessment of the moment, etc. That is, their professionalism, compassion, and fortitude.”

This is my comment:

What is the new paradigm? Education reduced to test scores delivered by inexperienced people with no professional preparation. Principals and superintendents with no education experience.

How, exactly, is that “reform”?

The fate of Paul Vallas will be decided by Connecticut’s highest court.

An earlier court decision ruled that he lacked the qualifications specified in state law.

In response to a judge’s ruling that he lacks the proper credentials to be a superintendent in Connecticut, Paul Vallas will fight for the job. The attorney for the city will lodge an immediate appeal. The governor says it is a local issue, but says that if he ran Chicago, Philadelphia, and New Orleans, he must be qualified even if he doesn’t meet the demands of the law.

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