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Howard Gardner

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Howard Gardner
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Bridgeport Board of Education, At-large
Term ends
November 2017
Elections and appointments
First electedNovember 5, 2013
Next generalNovember 2017
Term limitsN/A
Bachelor'sUniversity of Bridgeport
Master'sPolytechnic Institute of New York University
ProfessionIT consultant
Howard Gardner is a Democratic member of the Bridgeport Board of Education. He first won election to the board against seven other candidates on November 5, 2013.


Gardner holds a B.S. in Electrical Engineering from the University of Bridgeport. He also earned an M.S. in Computer Science from Polytechnic Institute of New York University. Gardner is currently an IT consultant and leads the Minority Business Association.[1]



See also: Bridgeport Public Schools elections (2013)


Gardner won election to the board against seven other candidates for five seats on the board on November 5, 2013.


General election
Bridgeport Public Schools, General Election, 4-year term, 2013
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Democratic Green check mark transparent.pngDave Hennessey 20.1% 940
     Democratic Green check mark transparent.pngHoward Gardner 15.7% 731
     Republican Green check mark transparent.pngJoe Larcheveque 15.1% 706
     Democratic Green check mark transparent.pngAndre Baker, Jr. 15.3% 714
     Republican Steve Best 11.8% 550
     Republican John Weldon 10.3% 482
     Working Families Eric Stewart-Alicea 4.2% 194
     Working Families Green check mark transparent.pngSauda Baraka Incumbent 4% 186
     Working Families Andre Baker, Jr. 3.6% 167
Total Votes 4,670
Source: Connecticut Secretary of State, "Municipal Elections - November 5, 2013," accessed December 16, 2013

On September 10, 2013, a Democratic primary was held for three spots on the ballot in the Bridgeport Board of Education election. Andre Baker, Jr., Dave Hennessey and Gardner won these positions over Simon Castillo, Kathryn Bukovsky and Brandon Clark. The winners ran against the school reform policies of Mayor Bill Finch and received the endorsement of the Network for Public Education while the other three candidates were endorsed by the Bridgeport Democratic Town Committee.[2][3]

Bridgeport Board of Education, September 10, 2013
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Democrat Green check mark transparent.pngAndre Baker, Jr. 21.6% 3,409
     Democrat Green check mark transparent.pngDave Hennessey 21% 3,308
     Democrat Green check mark transparent.pngHoward Gardner 20.8% 3,284
     Democrat Simon Castillo 12.5% 1,977
     Democrat Kathryn Bukovsky 12.2% 1,917
     Democrat Brandon Clark 11.8% 1,862
Total Votes 15,757
Source: Connecticut Post These results are unofficial.


Howard Gardner reported no contributions or expenditures to the Connecticut State Elections Enforcement Commission.


Gardner was endorsed by the Connecticut Post prior to the September 10, 2013 Democratic primary.[4] He was endorsed by Citizens Working for a Better Bridgeport PAC during the general election campaign.[5]

Campaign themes


In a letter to Only in Bridgeport, Gardner and his fellow Democratic candidates discussed their campaign themes for 2013:[6]

"What can the B.E.S.T. team do? How can the B.E.S.T. team help to give all children the quality public school education they deserve? We were asked these questions repeatedly during our walks around the various neighborhoods in our city. We replied that we are candidates who will demonstrate a commitment to shared governance. We will actively seek input from parents, teachers, administrators, students, and the community. Our team will not handle this participation in a perfunctory way. We will not be beholden to the city administration, the teachers association, any particular interest group, or overly influential parents. We will ask questions and demand answers on any, and all, matters regarding the education deserved by all students. The B.E.S.T. team will support administrators, but challenge them when it is appropriate. The position of the teachers association is to be respected, but will not control the Board’s agenda. Active and vociferous parents must be heard, but not permitted to sway the Board’s objective of doing what’s best for all children in our district.

What happens if the B.E.S.T. team is elected in November? Some of the problems in our schools have been occurring for an extended period of time. It will take an equally long time to rectify those particular issues. A long range plan, implemented by a balanced Board of Education concerned with long term progress of all of our students, will address those. There are some problems, however, that are a direct result of an unqualified leader using a “rubber stamp” Board of Education to do what’s politically expedient, not what’s in the best interests of our children.

These immediate issues facing the Board of Education at its first meeting are many, but are not limited to the following. They are in no particular order.

• Reduction of guidance counselors and subsequent extreme burden for our needy students;

• Loss of vital paraprofessionals for our youngest students;

• Elimination of Math and Reading coaches and tutors;

• Lack of enough nursing/healthcare coverage;

• Expansion of Early Childhood education;

• Overcrowding in many schools;

• Implementation of further testing, which takes away MORE valuable instruction time;

• Continued hiring of inexperienced “teachers” (5 weeks of training) as opposed to teachers with 4 years of training, despite the fact that these inexperienced “teachers” cost more than $3,000 additional dollars per year to employ;

• Inordinate hours by principals working on teacher evaluations, which inhibit them from being the instructional leaders of their schools.

What are the B.E.S.T slate’s solutions? Dave, Howard and Andre will be dedicated to the basic premise that ALL of Bridgeport’s children deserve the same quality public school education that our parents and grandparents received. We will demand of our legislators that the State of Connecticut adopt and implement legislation that fully funds the Education Cost Sharing formula over the next 5 years. It’s currently under-funded by over than $763 million. We will ensure that civility is the norm on the Board of Education, and that all voices are heard and valued."

Note: The above quote is from the candidate's website, which may include some typographical or spelling errors.

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 Gardner, Andre Baker, Jr. and Dave Hennessey. Although the candidates were not endorsed by the party's town committee, all three won election to the board.[7] The Bridgeport Republican Town Committee selected Steve 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.[8] 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.[9]


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.[10] 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 Joe Larcheveque and Steve Best.

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.[11] 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.[12]

About the district

See also: Bridgeport Public Schools, Connecticut
Bridgeport Public Schools is located in Fairfield County, Connecticut
Bridgeport Public Schools is located in Bridgeport, the largest city in Connecticut and the county seat for Fairfield County. Bridgeport is located along the Long Island Sound with the Pequonnock River cutting through the downtown district. The population of Bridgeport was 60,477 according to the 2010 U.S. Census.[13]


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.[13]

Racial Demographics, 2010[13]
Race Bridgeport (%) Connecticut (%)
White 87.7 77.6
Black or African American 3.8 10.1
American Indian and Alaska Native 0.2 0.3
Asian 1.9 3.8
Two or More Races 2.5 2.6
Hispanic or Latino 9.6 13.4

Presidential Voting Pattern[14]
Year Democratic Vote (%) Republican Vote (%)
2012 85.7 13.8
2008 83.5 16
2004 70.7 27.8
2000 72.7 22.1

Note: The United States Census Bureau considers "Hispanic or Latino" to be a place of origin, not a race. Therefore, the Census allows citizens to report both their race and that they are from a "Hispanic or Latino" place of origin simultaneously. As a result, the percentages in each column of the racial demographics table will exceed 100 percent. 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.[15] This Ballotpedia page provides a more detailed explanation of how the Census Bureau handles race and ethnicity in its surveys.

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