City voters will elect 4 new members of the Board of Education on November 7th, and each party is fielding a full slate. The Middletown Federation of Teachers hosted a lively forum for the candidates on Tuesday evening. All 8 candidates attended, along with about 30 members of the public.
Members of the audience and the teachers' union asked candidates to discuss the skills and experiences relevant to the Board of Ed, to address the divisive and anti-education policies of Donald Trump, to address school financing, the Common Core standards, and how as a Board member they would interact with the Common Council in budget discussions. The forum lasted for over two and a half hours, what follows is a small sampling of the views of each candidate.
(R) is a proud graduate of Middletown High's class of 2015. He said his youth and recent experience in our public schools would allow him to bridge different constituents of the school system, "I would be able to offer the experience I went through myself. ... I will be able to provide a freshness [to the board]." In response to a question about how he would approach members of the Common Council to ask for more resources for the schools, he said he would prepare extensively before meeting with them "I will have data that support the school needs, I would present the research."
(R) is an English Literature teacher at Maloney High School in Meriden, with a masters degree in educational technology. He emphasized his experience as a teacher, "I go [into school] every day. ... The point is I go to work. ... We need to work together." Asked what the most important leadership attribute is for a Board member, he said, "You have to do all your diligence."
is a lawyer who works in the area of labor relations; he has been a community member of the Middletown BoE policy committee since 2016. In response to a question about whether he supports Donal Trump and his policies, he simply said, "I did not vote for him." He said he was an advocate for social justice, and made it clear he would do what he could to oppose Trump's policies that hurt Middletown education and children.
(R) is a retired nurse, he worked at psychiatric institutions, including Connecticut Valley Hospital. He said, "I'm running because I have the skills to work with people." In response to a question about his racial attitudes, he boasted that he has grandchildren of multiple races, and friends from throughout the world, "Personally, it's never been an issue." He said he voted for Donald Trump.
(D) is retired from a career as an equal opportunity employment specialist, and she now works as a real estate agent and runs an after-school program for children of all ages. Of families thinking about where to make a home, she said, "I want to make Middletown a 'go-to' town, where [people say] they have the best schools."
(D) said that he moved to the city expecting to stay just a few years, "but we fell in love with the city and our schools." He repeatedly emphasized the importance of communication, for his own education in making decisions on the Board of Education, and for the community to understand those decisions. He pointed to the data he would use to determine whether the schools have what they need, and promised to advocate forcefully to make sure the schools were appropriately supported. He also discussed the importance of communicating with children to help them overcome the destructive effects of the rhetoric and policies of Donald Trump.
(D) is a teacher in Hartford, she is also a candidate for a doctorate in Educational Leadership. She said she has a pair of passions in life: education and working for social justice; and she has a pair of goals for the Board of Education: narrow the gap that exists between the achievements of white students and the achievements of students of color, and improve the social and emotional growth of all students. Her answers focused on the students.
(D) is also a proud Middletown High graduate, he taught at his alma mater before having a long career working for the Connecticut Education Association, a public school lobbying organization. The only incumbent to seek re-election, he has served as Chair of the Board of Education for the past two years. He touted his extensive relationships with the Common Council, where he served for many years.
NOTE: the author is a Democratic candidate for Planning and Zoning, and thus part of a slate that includes all the above Democratic candidates. He does not pretend to be unbiased.