Jonathan Pelto tells the astonishing story of a calculated effort by Connecticut Governor Malloy and Bridgeport Mayor Finch to destroy public education in Bridgeport. First, starve the public schools of resources that they needed and to which they were entitled by state law; then declare the schools were failing and beyond help; finally, turn over the children to corporate charter chains that would get preferential treatment from the state, whoe commissioner of education founded one of the state’s charter chains.

The story is made credible not only by the facts of deliberate underfunding of the district, but by linking to an article by Bridgeport Board of Education member Howard Gardner, who was initially invited by the mayor to collaborate with the takedown of public education.

Gardner wrote in the Connecticut Post:

“Five years ago I was invited to join a newly formed education reform initiative comprised of Mayor Finch, then Superintendent John Ramos, then Board of Ed chair Barbara Bellinger, other community leaders, heads of local social service organizations, and business leaders. This organization was founded on the pretext of bolstering the performance of Bridgeport public schools, but operated under a hidden agenda shared only by a clandestine subgroup comprised of Meghan Lowney, Nate Snow and Robert Francis, and blessed by the Mayor. Suspecting that the purported agenda was not genuine, I resigned from Bridgeport Partner for Student Success, a.k.a., Excel Bridgeport.

“I walked away from BPSS over four years ago not having a complete grasp of the hidden agenda. However, subsequent chain of events have made its goals crystal clear — allow the Bridgeport Public School to be decimated, undermined; and then, point to the failure of the traditional public school system in Bridgeport. On that premise, they would build a case for alternative solutions — charter schools and corporation-based educational models. In hind sight one can deduce the various attempts to carry out this diabolical plot: the illegal takeover of an elected BBOE, the failed attempt at a charter change referendum and the hiring of Paul Vallas, public school destroyer extraordinaire.

“For his efforts in balancing the BBOE’s budget, Mr. Vallas might have left here as a hero to some; however, his results came with heavy damage to the district’s teaching/learning resources.

“This is the stark reality of Mr. Vallas’ legacy — the district has 72 less certified staff, including 27 in special education, than we had four years ago. Music, arts and other electives are non-existing at our high schools.”

There ought to be a law to punish those who harm public institutions and the children and communities that depend on them.