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|Former candidate for|
|Bridgeport Board of Education, At-large|
|Elections and appointments|
|Last election||November 5, 2013|
- 1 Elections
- 2 Funding
- 3 Campaign themes
- 4 What was at stake?
- 5 About the district
- 6 Recent news
- 7 See also
- 8 External links
- 9 References
Best sought election to the board against seven other candidates for five available seats on November 5, 2013. He earned the Republican Party endorsement in the election along with fellow challengers Joe Larcheveque and John Weldon.
|Bridgeport Public Schools, General Election, 4-year term, 2013|
|Democratic||Andre Baker, Jr.||15.3%||714|
|Working Families||Eric Stewart-Alicea||4.2%||194|
|Working Families||Sauda Baraka Incumbent||4%||186|
|Working Families||Andre Baker, Jr.||3.6%||167|
|Source: Connecticut Secretary of State, "Municipal Elections - November 5, 2013," accessed December 16, 2013|
Steve Best reported no contributions or expenditures to the Connecticut State Elections Enforcement Commission.
Best was endorsed by Citizens Working for a Better Bridgeport PAC on October 3, 2013.
In a letter to The Connecticut Post, Best explained his campaign themes for 2013:
"How do we achieve a better education for Bridgeport's children?
A comprehensive and methodical decentralization of the Bridgeport public school system's infrastructure and its financial resources. This will push all of the variables of the public education formula to the grass roots level of principal, teacher, parent and student. If executed and implemented correctly, all decision-making and financial-allocation processes will be transparent and open.
Develop, through universally accepted and agreed-upon standards, an effective benchmarking process and schedule that will measure student, teacher and administrator performance. This will insure the spirit and responsibility of accountability. And will remove debate from the day-to-day operations of the school system.
By whatever means necessary, develop programs and safeguards that will ensure that all Bridgeport elementary school students get out of the starting blocks quickly. And are not left behind in the early laps of their young lives. Smaller classes and more teachers is the first step in this process.
We must understand and address the social and academic reasons behind the 50 percent dropout and 66 percent graduation rates in Bridgeport high schools.
Provide teachers with the resources to develop flexible and customized programs at each stage of educational development.
Monitor the assimilation of Common Core curriculum standards into Bridgeport schools.
Continue to evaluate the present and future role of charter and magnet schools.
Engage parents at every level and at every opportunity. Their children are their legacy.
Attract the best and the brightest to teach, work and contribute to the Bridgeport public school system: from recent college graduates to Fortune 500 companies.
Our vision and our plan must start with the needs of today's children. And it must extend to the future needs of tomorrow's children.
Why is it important to me, with no children in the school system, to improve the Bridgeport public schools? Why am I running for the Board of Education? Because it takes a village. I have made this village my home. And the children of the village need some help.
This village has some serious problems that must be addressed immediately and at their source. These problems are manifested daily in unemployment and violent crime. Within the village, education can be the alternate path followed.
When the village is better educated, it becomes smarter. When it gets smarter, it becomes healthier. When the village is healthier, it gets safer. When it is safer, it becomes more attractive. When the village is more attractive, it becomes more valuable. When it is more valuable, the village grows. And after the village grows, who knows, maybe the village will be able to lower its taxes."
What was at stake?
Democratic incumbents Leticia Colon, Thomas Mulligan, Jr. and Bobby Simmons did not file for re-election in 2013. The Democratic primary yielded a slate including Andre Baker, Jr., Dave Hennessey and Howard Gardner. Although the candidates were not endorsed by the party's town committee, all three won election to the board. The Bridgeport Republican Town Committee selected Best, John Weldon and Joe Larcheveque as their candidates for the board. Weldon was the only Republican pick to not win election to the board. The Working Families Party sought to retain two seats and pick up a Democratic seat by endorsing incumbent Sauda Baraka and Eric Stewart-Alicea, as well as Democratic candidate Baker. Neither Baraka nor Stewart-Alicea won election to the board.
Board relations with Mayor Finch
The main issue during the Bridgeport Board of Education elections in 2013 was the relationship between the board, Democratic Mayor Bill Finch and Superintendent Paul Vallas. Finch has been criticized for his efforts to orchestrate a state takeover of the school board by the state in July 2011. The mayor argued that conflict on the board prevented reforms necessary to improve test scores and reduce budget deficits. This effort allowed the state to appoint new board members and appoint education reformer Paul Vallas as superintendent. In February 2012, the Connecticut State Supreme Court ruled 6-1 that the state takeover was unconstitutional and resumed local control over schools. Five members of the board who were replaced by state appointees were reinstated after the ruling and four new members were elected during a special election in spring 2012. The Democratic and Working Families candidates in the 2013 election had hoped to take all five available seats to counter reform efforts by Finch, Vallas and current board members. However, two seats were picked up by Republican candidates Best and Joe Larcheveque.
Board relations with Superintendent Vallas
Paul Vallas was appointed by the state as Superintendent of Bridgeport Public Schools in January 2012. Vallas, a former school administrator in New Orleans and Chicago, has been criticized for budget cuts as well as excessive testing. Critics like board member Sauda Baraka have focused on the use of standardized testing every six weeks and resource deprivation in the classroom as reasons to oust Vallas. Supporters, including Mayor Finch, note that the district has closed a budget deficit and placed local schools on the right path. The Democratic and Working Families candidates in the 2013 election were vocal opponents of Vallas. Vallas is currently serving under a three-year contract approved by a majority of board members in 2013 which opponents are challenging in state court.
About the district
- See also: Bridgeport Public Schools, Connecticut
Bridgeport lags behind the rest of Connecticut based on median income and higher education achievement while outperforming the state poverty rate. The 2010 U.S. Census found the median income in Bridgeport was $60,032 while the state median income was $69,243. The percentage of city residents over 25 years old with undergraduate degrees (21.7%) was lower than the state average (35.7%). The city's poverty rate was 8.2% compared to the state's 9.5% poverty rate.
Note: The United States Census Bureau considers "Hispanic or Latino" to be a place of origin rather than a race. Citizens may report both their race and their place of origin, and as a result, the percentages in each column of the racial demographics table may exceed 100 percent.
This section displays the most recent stories in a Google news search for the term "Steve + Best + Bridgeport + Schools"
- All stories may not be relevant to this page due to the nature of the search engine.
- Citizens Working for a Better Bridgeport, "Political Action Committee CW4BB Announces General Election Endorsements," October 3, 2013
- Connecticut Post, "Doing what's right for Bridgeport's youth," October 23, 2013
- Connecticut Post, "Challengers win school board primary," September 11, 2013
- CT News, "Plenty willing to join the Bridgeport BOE fray," July 25, 2013
- CT News, "Working Families Party picks BOE slate," August 10, 2013
- New York Times, "State to Appoint New Board of Education in Bridgeport," July 6, 2011
- Chicago Sun-Times, "Paul Vallas, former Chicago school chief, fighting to keep his latest job," September 21, 2013
- Connecticut Post, "School board results all about the mayor," September 12, 2013
- U.S. Census, "Quick Facts: Bridgeport," accessed October 24, 2013
- Connecticut Secretary of State, "Election Results," accessed October 4, 2013
- United States Census Bureau, "Frequently Asked Questions," accessed April 21, 2014
- Each column will add up to 100 percent after removing the "Hispanic or Latino" place of origin percentages, although rounding by the Census Bureau may make the total one- or two-tenths off from being exactly 100 percent. This Ballotpedia page provides a more detailed explanation of how the Census Bureau handles race and ethnicity in its surveys.