Thursday, April 25, 2024

Stratford School System – On the Front Page?

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“Let Us Help You Live”

John Marshall Lee, CLU, RHU
Member of the Executive Committee of the NAACP

What’s going on in Stratford Schools? Attending a Board of Education meeting for two hours last evening (2-26-24), revealed partisan patterns of voting that ignore current public preferences for complete learning experiences for town youth. The auditorium at Stratford High School showed many red shirts with signage warning about budget cuts.

Of some 25 speakers, a majority advocated for maintenance of current librarians, media specialists as well as literacy and math specialists to assist students who struggle with learning specific skills. Many speakers were aware that Stratford is an Alliance District where attention to outcomes for all is critical. Students present spoke for the need to maintain staffing of libraries, media and technology specialists who support student skill development. One student, a member of the newly formed English Honor group, let the audience know she is counting down the days, 802 as of last evening, when she can vote.

Board Chairperson, Michael Henrick, did not have the subject of the suspension of Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Uyi Osunde, or a report on a “continuing investigation” on his Agenda. Why not? The Court dismissed the matter. What is on the mind of the majority on the BOE? Henrick separately shared what he claimed were public allegations that he indicated were made against Osunde. Without evidence, or proof of attribution, and especially if none of the issues reported were part of Osunde’s evaluation in June 2023, are these factual, invented, or real? They keep Dr. Osunde away from his desk and professional responsibilities. Attendance at the meeting and listening to 25 citizens speak against proposed budget cuts and/or support for Dr. Osunde, one comes away with a sense of concern and confusion and certainly multiple unaddressed questions for the Board.

Is the local Republican leadership, with a 4-3 majority supposedly focused on education of youth as their primary task 24/7, or are they seeking to excise librarians, media specialists, and other necessary personnel who assist all students to develop talents and skills merely to cut taxes? Speakers connected the dots on budget cuts, future diminishing education system results, lower valuation of housing, lower Grand List base for taxation, dismal!!

On the national scene a variety of states report “radical right” Republican voices looking to ban books and attack school libraries. Are Stratford Republican voices targeting the entire library and media technology education system in one stroke? Did you know that the Stratford system has produced significant jumps in nationally administered testing in recent years with SAT and AP results that are known by Chair Michael Henrick. How is keeping a ‘man of color’ with a doctorate in a suspended state away from budget review an advantage to the Town? When public speaking privilege is reduced to 2 minutes for this session, is it merely a sign of Chair privilege? When the President of the Greater Bridgeport NAACP, which serves the region, requested two minutes to address the BOE, was the denial in line with historic community protocol? Is support of partisan politics over public oath swearing something that will be forgotten at a next election? Time will tell.

3 COMMENTS

  1. Just a few weeks ago, it was reported in the n newspapers, that Stratford was looking to fill 77 positions. What’s up? Hasn’t the Stratford BOE eroded the school system enough? The thought of eliminating any certified positions is a disgrace, once again.

  2. If the cuts that are proposed go through there will be an exodus of teachers.

    We are on a downward spiral with the drain in site.

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