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BEA Plays Pivotal Role in School Reform

CEA Field Representative Michael Brady and Bridgeport Chief Administrative Officer Sandra Kase present Curiale School’s turnaround plan to the State Board of Education this morning.

The Bridgeport Education Association (BEA) is a strong and collaborative partner in developing strategies to implement Connecticut’s new reform law, Public Act 12-116. That’s the essence of commendations delivered this morning by state education officials and the Bridgeport school administration at a meeting of the State Board of Education in Hartford.

Among its many changes, the law provides for new “Commissioner’s Network” Schools, and Bridgeport’s James J. Curiale School is among the first four selected to develop a school turnaround plan. CEA Field Representative Michael Brady and Bridgeport Chief Administrative Officer Sandra Kase presented their plan today that is far reaching—impacting everything from the length of the school day and year along with additional student instruction and intervention to extensive professional development for teachers to new enrichment opportunities for students. Read the complete plan here.

The plan says that the “school’s greatest strength is its staff.” Kase today described BEA “as a strong and active colleague and an extremely close partner and collaborator” in developing the new turnaround plan. State Education Commissioner Stefan Pryor said the union and the school administration have worked tirelessly in recent months to develop their plan — approved by the State Board today and scheduled for initial implementation in the upcoming school year.

“Your gearing up is truly a miracle. I want to commend Sandra and Mike. You truly innovated.” said Pryor. Kase said, “There is hope in Bridgeport for the first time in a long time. Teachers have rallied. They have been asked to do a monumental task.”

CEA’s Brady told the State Board that Curiale, like other schools in Bridgeport, has suffered from a severe lack of resources and instructional material and many teachers are excited about the state assistance, upwards of $1 million, along with help from UConn’s School of Education and social service agencies, that comes with being in the Commissioner’s Network.

“You’ve hit the mother lode of bringing in the whole community. This is at the heart of whether the change can be sustained—the teachers have to be part of this and the parents,” said State Board member Terry Jones.

BEA President Gary Peluchette could not attend today’s Hartford meeting since he was meeting with teachers in Bridgeport on developing new evaluation plans. He said that the “Curiale plan is thanks to the hard work of teachers Gregory Furlong, Jennifer Keleman, and Katie McLeod, who serve on the school turnaround committee. It’s gratifying to see their extraordinary talent recognized as they made their voices heard and had teachers’ needs addressed in the plan. They are representative of other high-quality teachers who staff our schools and will collaborate on districtwide reform—something that’s necessary to meet the needs of all stakeholders.”

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