Lost in the Opposition to Vallas: What is Best for the Kids

Opponents of public education reform succeeded in getting a possibly biased judge to rule that Bridgeport schools Superintendent Paul Vallas be removed from his position because he wasn’t qualified for the job. Bridgeport rightly appealed the ridiculous decision and the Supreme Court will now decide the case in an expedite manner. Vallas will stay on the job while the case is being adjudicated. The plaintiffs want him out. What’s completely lost in the actions of those bringing and supporting the lawsuit and opposing Vallas?—what’s best for the students of the state’s worst performing school system.

What’s best for the kids is allowing Vallas to work his reform magic and turnaround Bridgeport’s schools. What’s best for the kids is to allow Vallas to at least stay on until the Supreme Court can rule so as to have a leader in place when the school year starts in September. And what’s best for the kids is for the Supreme Court to laugh the plaintiffs out the door with the preposterous claim that Vallas isn’t qualified.

Judge Barbara Bellis ruled Vallas didn’t take a required leadership course—at least not one to the judge’s liking. The thing is, the state board of education (BOE) was ok with the course Vallas took and that’s all that should matter. Bellis is reaching where the court ought not reach.

In addition to the BOE, Vallas is supported by Gov. Dannel Malloy, Mayor Bill Finch, the majority of the Bridgeport BOE and even US Secretary of Education Arnie Duncan who told the New York Times the opposition to Vallas was “beyond ludicrous.”

At the crux of this debate is that those who oppose Vallas do so because he will institute education reform. Opponents will support the status quo even to the detriment of the kids. Anti-school reform forces don’t have the welfare of the students at the top of their priority list.

The Hartford Court, in a recent editorial, got it right saying, “Mr. Vallas may not meet every [course] certification requirement to the letter. But in the larger sense, to say that he is unqualified or ineligible to be superintendent in Bridgeport is a bad joke.” It concluded, “Mr. Vallas’ promising appointment shouldn’t be strangled in red tape.” Indeed.