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NAACP presses Norwalk BoE to ‘take action’ after more emails revealed

Norwalk Branch NAACP President Brenda Penn-Williams waits for Tuesday’s Board of Education meeting to begin in City Hall.

Norwalk Board of Education Chairman Mike Barbis waits for Tuesday’s wimeeting to begin.

Updated, 9:44 a.m.: Clarification about proposed meeting between Mike Barbis and Brenda Penn-Williams; 8:09 a.m.: Copy edits

NORWALK, Conn. – Round two of acrimony inspired by Norwalk Board of Education emails on Tuesday featured “Mike and Mike” looking away as two Norwalk NAACP leaders made sharp criticisms, and one called the Board “a stain” on the community.

“Two weeks have passed since the NAACP in partnership with the Interdenominational Ministers Fellowship of Norwalk and Vicinity requested the resignation of Chairman (Mike) Barbis,” Norwalk Branch NAACP President Brenda Penn-Williams said, alleging “poor ethics and racially insensitive behavior” and promising to continue the pressure on the Board.

Barbis on Oct. 5 sent an email to the entire Board urging them not to attend the annual NAACP Freedom Fund banquet on Oct. 19, citing “very serious false allegations and attacks on the BOE and our staff.” The email was obtained by NancyOnNorwalk through a Freedom of Information Act request, and publicized in a Feb. 5 NoN story, which led to calls that Barbis resign.

The controversy has since intensified, thanks to two stories in The Hour, one about a letter sent by the Norwalk High School School Governance Council, explaining the school’s bathroom shortage and objecting to comments Barbis made, and one on Monday, revealing that Board member Mike Lyons slammed a number of African American leaders in a Feb. 13 email.

The email as described in the Hour story “further highlight the general disregard that some members of this Board of Education have for leaders of the Norwalk African American community,” Penn-Williams said Tuesday evening.

 

 

‘Nosedive’

NancyOnNorwalk on Tuesday obtained the emails which were the subject of Monday’s Norwalk Hour story.

Norwalk Branch NAACP President Brenda Penn-Williams, left, holds up a sign as Tuesday’s Board of Education meeting gets underway.

Lyons referred to former BoE members Sherelle Harris, Rosa Murray and Shirley Mosby, Common Council members Darlene Young (D-District B) and Ernie Dumas (D-District B), Norwalk Federation of Teachers (NFT) First Vice President Joe Giandurco, former Norwalk Deputy Superintendent Tony Daddona and Norwalk High School Assistant Principal Lynne Moore.

Board member Bruce Kimmel on Feb. 13 wrote that he found some of the commentary on NancyOnNorwalk “depressing.”

“The quality of debate in Norwalk has taken a nosedive in recent years,” Kimmel wrote.

Lyons replied:

“I’m only surprised when the comments on Nancy DON’T reflect a ‘nosedive in debate quality’, not when they DO. This degradation is practically universal in social media these days.  As the nastiness ratchets up (particularly when people can hide behind fake names), most of the reasonable, well-meaning people withdraw, and thus the chats usually get taken over by the nastiest participants. Quite a mix of comments. Sherelle speaking up for Shirley et al, a group of BoE members who probably did more to hold back minority student achievement than any other three BoE members in its history. Then we have the ‘blame the immigrants’ comments. Then the ‘you’re killing the taxpayers’ folks (who’d seemingly be happier if we shut down NPS entirely). Then we have Joe Giandurco (who posts under a variety of fake names) extolling the good old days when ‘the middle schools worked and students enjoyed coming to school’ (even though middle schools showed consistent nosedives in student achievement, all for $2,000 per year per student more than we spent at the high schools). Then Marj (hard to tell if this is Lynne Moore or Tony Daddona), with the usual attacks on evil Lyons and evil Barbis. Then Darlene Young (speaking for the reliably anti-education District B Democratic Committee), with a meandering condemnation of the only people who have actually tried to help the kids of South Norwalk she purports to care about. [How much did the gap close while Rosa Murray, Shirley Mosby et al ran the BoE? Zero. How much did any District B Dem complain about that state of affairs then? Zero.] Then the rambling comment from Ernie Dumas, whose view of the Board is so nuts that he once publicly accused the Board of lighting a brush fire that happened in the woods around Ely School in an effort to convince people that the new school should be built there (no lie – there was press coverage of this statement, which he meant seriously).

“The good news – take away District B Dems, disgruntled NPS union reps, and a few other naysayers, and what do you have? Nothing.  These comments are not representative of Norwalk at large (which is why I only made one comment and haven’t dignified any of the other comments with a response.”

 

Feb. 13 & 14 Emails Request of NON

 

Giandurco said Tuesday that he spoke about the NAACP controversy to the Board.

“My name is on that,” Giandurco said. “Have I commented in the past? Yes. But I don’t engage in trolling on the Internet. I have made no comment about the NAACP, except for my public comment to the Board.”

“Mr Giandurco and I presented comments on this topic in person at the Board meeting, not anonymously,” Norwalk Federation of Teachers President Mary Yordon wrote.

Young and Mosby declined comment. Dumas did not reply to an email.

Harris on Feb. 12 left a comment on NancyOnNorwalk, in reply to an opinion signed by eight of nine BoE members:

“I usually try to stay out of nonsense, but to this letter I say grow up and get rid of the ego-grabbing, gang mentality. Thumbs down https://www.thehour.com/opinion/article/See-who-gets-a-Thumbs-Down-this-week-13608210.php and please see https://www.nancyonnorwalk.com/2015/07/opinion-board-of-ed-work-should-not-be-about-adults-but-children/No amount of verbiage can cover up for the arrogance and power hungry nonsense that is displayed, not to mention the lies that came forward with the FOI request. Barbara Meyer Mitchell–whose name is not signed to this letter–spoke candidly and is probably being cut off as were board members who had their own minds, but tried to stay above the fray. Where are the peacemakers to make the peace before things escalate?

“I can give a pat on the back, whether or not I like someone, if a job is well done; however, these types of actions give me pause to wonder what is really going on. Numbers can lie too depending on whose behind them. Folk get caught in a lie, Nancy publishes an article about apologizing, and here we are.

“So your point is….? What’s your real message?”

 

‘A stain’

Penn-Williams circulated a flier last week, encouraging people to attend Tuesday’s Board meeting; more than 40 people, most of them African American, attended the meeting in support of the NAACP leadership. They included Mosby, former State Rep. Bruce Morris and the Rev. Lindsay Curtis.

The Board held a “workshop” meeting, with Testing and Evaluation Specialist Diane Filardo explaining Norwalk Public Schools’ achievements in the latest Next Generation Accountability report.

Ordinarily, public speakers at a BoE workshop meeting are constrained to address only the topic that’s been presented to the Board.

Norwalk Mayor Harry Rilling talks to Norwalk Branch NAACP President Brenda Penn-Williams before Tuesday’s Board of Education meeting, in City Hall.

“Where is it written?” Penn-Williams said before the meeting, explaining that NAACP members had been unable to find a Board policy that kept public speakers from wandering off topic.

She spoke to Mayor Harry Rilling before the meeting began, and came back to tell supporters that they could speak if they wanted to.

In remarks to the Board, Penn-Williams said Lyons’ commentary shows his continued disdain for perspectives he does not agree with.

“Again, we ask this Board to take an active step to show disapproval of Mr. Lyons’ statement,” Penn-Williams said. “It would be reassuring to many of us if there would emails that showed Board members who received copies of these type of emails from Mr. Lyons and Mr. Barbis would immediately rebuff them. Silence breeds consent. So, I am saying, ‘you are agreeing with him.’”

She continued, “It is for that reason the NAACP will continue to speak loud and consistently against action by elected officials who are supposed to represent the goodwill of our entire city. I pray members of this BoE will stand with us. We will continue to request the resignation of chairman Barbis, who has yet failed to acknowledge any wrong doing.”

Barbis said last week that he will not resign.

NAACP Board member Eric Fischman also spoke Tuesday.  Fischman said he spent 33 years as an NPS psychologist and Special Education teacher who now teaches math at Winston Preparatory School.

He counseled more than 1,000 children while he was a school psychologist and he would tell them, “there is no such thing as a secret,” and, “We are here to help you to figure out what you are going to do when people find out, because they will find out,” he said.

“Along with these false accusations made by (Barbis and Lyons) and the underlying racism that was within that context, there is responsibility for the fact that as wonderful as we have seen that you are as a Board, you do not represent all of Norwalk,” Fischman said. “… I think it’s a shame. I read today’s email belittling people who I hold very high and dear, because I know what they have done for this community.”

“I worked with John Mosby for 10 years and saw all the good that he did for a lot of people. Perhaps you saw one small part of him but as a professional, it was your job to keep your mouth shut,” Fischman said.

Some people applauded; Rilling smiled.

“We keep secrets because we know that what we did was wrong,” Fischman said. “That is why we lie. That is why we fail to present the information, even when it is requested by the press. That is why you have torn apart this community. … I think you are a stain on the fabric of this community.”

Lyons and Barbis looked away as Fischman and Penn-Williams spoke.

After the meeting, Penn-Williams said the Norwalk NAACP would be back on March 19 for the next BoE meeting.

Rilling said that although Barbis and Penn-Williams had agreed to meet and talk things out, it would be difficult to have a civil meeting if “this keeps up.” He called the behavior disappointing.

“We need to respect each other, we need to be civil. Nothing else is acceptable,” Rilling said. “Our children are the focus. Tonight should have been a celebration of the achievements that are being made in our school system by our teachers, our administrators, our counselors, the people that work hard every single day on behalf of our children. Not name calling, not nonsense. The nonsense has to stop.”

Norwalk Superintendent of Schools Steven Adamowski, left, and Norwalk Board of Education Chairman Mike Barbis, Tuesday in City Hall. Absent from the meeting were Board members Erik Anderson and Bryan Meek; Meek arrived in time to attend the Board’s executive session, which followed the public meeting.

19 comments

Sue Haynie March 6, 2019 at 6:26 am

This whole thing is unfortunate, passions need to cool on all sides.

Mike Barbie and Mike Lyons have done yoemen’s work for NPS; NPS needs both of them. The NAACP doesn’t like either, but that’s not a reason for them to resign. Freedom of speech is still legal I think.

I consider Sherelle Harris a friend and believe her to be someone who truly cares about all kids, her actions at the SONO library speak volumes. Being a member of the BOE is tough; it’s conflicting, demanding and unforgiving.

During the 4 years I was on the Norwalk BOE, I felt the NAACP leadership was MIA when it came to truly advocating for minority students, they still seem to worry more about themselves than the kids. They were mum on the ‘rubber rooms’ at Briggs, mum when the NFT watered down Superintendent Marks turnaround plan to the point of worthlessness(funded by Dalio); mum when NPS was sanctioned by the State because so many black SPED kids were being suspended at two of our middle schools…the list goes on.

I believe a lot of the hooha is being driven by Senator Duff who wants to ‘prove’ that mayors of cities should choose BOE chairs. I also believe that the NFT, NAACP, Duff don’t want Mike Barbis and Mike Lyons on the BOE to help choose the next Superintendent.

This whole things is mostly about politics—NON and the Hour are trying to make it about something else. God save the little children.

Piberman March 6, 2019 at 7:44 am

“Roiling the community” “stain on the BOE” don’t those words apply to the charges of 3 BOE members supported by the NAACP several years ago when they charged the entire BOE of “discrimination’ without supplying any evidence. A charge never made before by any CT town or City. And charges never rescinded by the NAACP.

With elections coming up the NAACP has another opportunity to put up candidates for the BOE. Meanwhile the BOE can get on with the business they were elected to do with the admiration of a grateful community in the best American tradition. Norwalk faces unprecedented challenges. For many if not most of us the BOE remains a “bright spot”.
With BOE Chairs Barbis and Lyons providing the leadership we rarely see in our City where anyone can be elected to any post. No qualifications needed.

John Levin March 6, 2019 at 8:39 am

“I’m only surprised when the comments on Nancy DON’T reflect a ‘nosedive in debate quality’, not when they DO.” Mike and Bruce, I understand how a person can feel this way. But one important purpose of the NancyOnNorwalk’s comment section is to serve as a virtual public square, where people can share there thoughts, feelings, and experiences, and comment on those of others. This is an important function, in my opinion. But if you don’t show up – that is you don’t enter this ‘public square’ and help direct these discussions toward facts, reason, and compassion, then you simply will cede it to the few people who do show up but unfortunately are either wackos (every town has them, and okay I might be one myself at times) or who seek to spread disinformation. So, I implore my neighbors in Norwalk, and our town officials, to show up, and to share your own insights to improve these discussions. Yes, on occasion you might be greeted by a stupid or poorly informed response, but trust the NoN readers to be able to sort through these and to recognize BS when they see/read it. We all need to pitch and help at times to make our town’s public square a better place. Thank you for reading, as that’s a great place to start!

Nancy Chapman March 6, 2019 at 1:33 pm

John, the public is allowed to speak at the end of a BOE workshop meeting. I’m not aware of anyone leaving before the end of last night’s meeting.

MarjorieM March 6, 2019 at 1:55 pm

I am no one and I am everyone. Specifically, I am not Lynne Moore or Tony Daddona. I listen to all educators and administrators and support them because they laid the foundation upon which the test scores have risen. A school system can not do well without a history of classroom teachers, principals and central office staff who have worked hard to build success. I have witnessed countless innovations in the past….from teaming in the high schools to a change in high school credit requirements, from team leaders to high intensity reading centers, from Reading Recovery to coaches in the classroom, from math mastery to Go Math and so much more.
Does anyone really think there are people who did not want students to succeed? I can’t begin to name all those who put students first because it would go on forever. I defend those who gave their all to Norwalk’s students and who are presently giving their all to Norwalk. I tell what I believe to be the truth. I believe someone has to.

Mike Lyons March 6, 2019 at 7:57 pm

Request accepted, John. As you probably know, in my early years on the Board I extensively interacted with people in the comments to NON articles, explaining the Board’s policies and initiatives. But it gets tiring being attacked by people hiding behind fake names (allowed on NON, unlike The Hour’s site which doesn’t allow it), so most of us just pulled back. I’m sure the fake name brigade will respond to this, too, so I won’t be making a habit of returning here. I don’t get paid for this volunteer work, and while I realize that Norwalk is truly a place where no good deed goes unpunished, there’s only so much agita I should be expected to absorb as the price of volunteering my time.

Forgive the lengthy response, but there’s so much to respond to.

Anyway, we have today’s article on the rehashing of the same complaints about emails already covered in earlier articles. So, a question for you and NON – is there going to be any follow-up coverage of the ACTUAL content of the Board meeting that preceded that rehashing – the Next Generation Accountability report on NPS from the State (beyond the one-sentence-mention above)? I know it has gotten some previous coverage, but so have the NAACP’s demands (which didn’t stop the rehash thereof in the article above).

Now you know the Accountability Report – that’s the one us beating state averages. With our minority kids beating those averages for three years running. With the lowest achievement gap for those minority students in the state. With no schools left in category 4. With 4 schools of distinction (up from 1). With 63% of our schools in categories 1 and 2 (vs. 47% statewide). With us number one in performance of urban school systems in the state. With our overall Accountability Index rivaling Wilton’s and Weston’s (NPS at 76.8 vs Weston 79.1 and Wilton 79.6), even though over 50% of our children are on free/reduced lunch in comparison to 5% or less for those towns (and even though they spend far more per pupil than we do).

All of these results were achieved in the last 5 years, and mark a dramatic break from the no-progress stasis NPS was in for the preceding 20 years. And all as a result of a Strategic Operating Plan, school building plan, strategic operating and capital budgets and other initiatives developed under superintendents Rivera and Adamowski, and approved by the Board by a 5-vote majority that elected chairs Lyons and Barbis, and which was opposed at almost every turn by the three former Board members we’ve been attacked for criticizing in private.

Those members voted no or abstained on the appointment of Mr. Rivera (NPS’s first-ever minority superintendent), voted no on the appointment of Dr. Adamowski, and also voted no or abstained on the Strategic Operating Plan that has brought about our success, on our K-5 Literacy Plan, on our school building program, and even on several school system operating and capital budgets! They were generally joined in that opposition by the union leadership, Brenda Penn-Williams, et al.
If their ‘no votes’ had prevailed, all the progress our students – particularly our minority students – have made in the last 5 years would have been short-circuited.

If they walk like obstructionists and quack like obstructionists, they’re obstructionists. There was no “false allegation” in my description of these individuals as such in my emails. Every abstention and every no vote of theirs is in the minutes and on video.

The whole situation here is really bizarre, but a good example of how “narratives” have replaced truth in such conflicts. All of the minority (AND non-minority) individuals I criticized PRIVATELY have vociferously PUBLICLY attacked me, other Board members, Dr. Adamowski, members of his staff – and NPS in general – for years. Yet the mayor and the news media (Cf. the recent Hour editorial) don’t question if ‘the tone of THEIR attacks’ would ‘create further division between the board and the community along racial lines’; only my privately-circulated responses to those attacks get so questioned. Want some examples of the double-standard being applied here? I’ll provide three for starters.

#1 Councilman Ernie Dumas did, without a shred of evidence, publicly accuse the Board of Education of arson at Ely School. He was completely serious, and completely wrong. He denied making the statement to The Hour this week, but NON wrote an article that included it (see https://www.nancyonnorwalk.com/2017/05/norwalk-political-notes-ggp-needs-a-new-hq-notable-norwalk-names/) and Nancy told me that she had him saying it on tape. So it’s ‘divisive’ for me to complain about Mr. Dumas falsely accusing the Board of arson (in this context a Class D felony), but not ‘divisive’ for him to make the accusation? Was that false accusation ‘a stain on Norwalk’?

#2 Former Board member Shirley Mosby, upset at my re-election as Board Chair in 2013, publicly said she would “pull every white hair out of [Lyons’] head”. She refused to apologize for the remark, going on to say, “If Mike Lyons sitting there and crying about that then he needs to give up the chairmanship right away”. See https://www.nancyonnorwalk.com/2013/11/new-board-has-rough-start-as-dem-majority-boe-re-elects-gop-chairman. Was that threat (potentially a Class A misdemeanor) ‘a stain on Norwalk’?

#3 Brenda Penn-Williams accused High Roads School personnel of assault on special education students placed there by NPS (https://www.nancyonnorwalk.com/2016/06/penn-williams-again-decries-high-road-school). This was an accusation of Class B felonies. When subsequent investigations by the Norwalk Police and the State DCYF cleared the school of the charges, Ms. Penn-Williams reiterated them again. Was falsely accusing innocent people of committing felony assault ‘a stain on Norwalk’?

During the time I’ve been on the Board, we have hired or promoted African-Americans to fill eleven administrative positions in NPS, each one with my support. NPS has twice the State average of minorities among our certified personnel (teachers and administrators). And as noted, we have done the best job of closing the minority achievement gap of any urban community in the state.

And despite the nearly non-stop attacks on me and other Board members from the three former Board members while they were on the Board, I repeatedly attempted to hold out olive branches (contra to the other “narrative” that they were ‘excluded’ just because I didn’t cc them on every email I wrote [as if any other politician cc’s their political opponents on all their emails!]). [NB – I didn’t “lie” about not copying them on my emails, since I never said I had. This is ‘straw man’ argument propounded by NAACP members.] While I was chairman and appointed a superintendent search committee to develop our superintendent profile, I appointed one Board member to the committee – African-American Rosa Murray. I also appointed Rosa Murray to chair the Finance Committee, which assembles our now-almost $200 million budget. I offered the chairmanship of the Curriculum and Instruction Committee to African-American Sherelle Harris (though she declined to take it). I appointed African-American Yvel Crevecoeur to chair the Special Education Committee, even re-appointing him after he had challenged me for the Board chairmanship.

As I’ve noted elsewhere, my history of appointing and supporting minority employees and Board members (even those who had opposed me) is all a matter of public record and speaks for itself. I have no problem with minorities in connection with the Norwalk Public Schools. I do have a problem with individuals – white OR minority – who have been obstructionists trying to hold back our schools’ progress. And I’m not about to apologize for prioritizing the needs of our children over the wants of those adults, or privately criticizing those adults for their actions. Or stop working to continue improving our schools, even though we’ve already achieved our primary goal of making Norwalk’s schools the best urban school system in the state.

John ONeill March 6, 2019 at 10:07 pm

I’m new in these discussions. I find anonymous comments a sign of weakness. If you really believe in your opinions, be proud of them and sign your name.

Al Bore March 7, 2019 at 7:58 am

Mike and the rest of the board do a great service for Norwalk and most of all for the students in Norwalk. Thank you BOE for volunteering to make our Norwalk school system a good place to learn and for working to make it a great place in the future. NPS has come a long way, but there is a lot more that needs to be done. With untiring people like you and the rest of the BOE it can happen.

Mike Barbis March 7, 2019 at 9:15 am

Marj…wow, a change of heart!! I am thrilled you are now on board with the reformists. But, wait, have you not been predicting for years that these reforms would fail? Are you actually acknowledging that these latest results are proving that the Strategic Operating Plan and the efforts of the current Board of Ed worked? Thanks!!

M. Jeffry Spahr March 7, 2019 at 9:18 am

Thank you Mike L et al for all your hard work. As my mom would say: ‘The proof is in the pudding’. In this case the proof is in the results.

John ONeill March 7, 2019 at 9:52 am

Mike Lyons: Thank you for the informative note. Sometimes the prism we look thru is too narrow. Regarding the Norwalk Hour – Certain genres sell more newspapers I guess. It is my hope that cooler and more rationale heads prevail over time. It is amazing to me that Board of Ed is volunteer work.

Joanna Cooper March 7, 2019 at 12:02 pm

@Sue Haynie I love your comment!
“This whole things is mostly about politics—NON and the Hour are trying to make it about something else. God save the little children.”

Yes- it’s politics! Absolutely it’s about politics, not race and certainly nothing to do with the little children. There has been virtually no news printed about what the BoE has planned for our little children just this crap. It sells more papers and gets more clickbait.

“I believe a lot of the hooha is being driven by Senator Duff who wants to ‘prove’ that mayors of cities should choose BOE chairs. I also believe that the NFT, NAACP, Duff don’t want Mike Barbis and Mike Lyons on the BOE to help choose the next Superintendent.”

Sue—Oh you hit the nail on the head here but don’t forgot Riling. Look at him beaming at Penn-Williams and the camera. He has been missing from so many BoE meetings but clearly delighted to show up for this one….and what does he do? He disrespects the unwritten policy of speakers keeping on subject therefore allows this nonsense and then he criticizes.

It’s Déjà vu with the same whining, complaining status quo characters….the Norwalk NAACP, Penn-Williams, Bruce Morris, the aggressive combative Union leadership, Riling and Duff. The whole lot of them I find a disgrace.

@Mike Lyons
Many of us have NOT forgotten the long ugly history of all of those that have looked to undermine superintendents, you and now Mike Barbis. We have seen the circus shows come to town. The Mosby’s, the NAACP, the continued whining of the Unions, Riling and Duff’s “Fix it First” plan and now Duff’s proposed legislation to have Mayor pick a BoE chairman. A law created to fix a problem that doesn’t exist.

In the last twenty years I have been watching none of them all together have done more to close the achievement gap and help minority children than you, Mike Barbis, the current BoE and Dr. Adamowski. The BoE is the best run department in this city. Ironically it’s run by volunteers and an outstanding Superintendent with very intelligent and thoughtful planning. This city owes you nothing but gratitude. Thank you!

Bob Welsh March 7, 2019 at 1:42 pm

Nancy has written about the Next Generation Accountability results at least three times:

Aug. 8: NPS test results ‘regress toward mean’; math achievement gap could close
https://www.nancyonnorwalk.com/2018/08/nps-regresses-toward-mean-in-preliminary-testing-results/

Feb. 21: “Adamowski highlights Next Gen gains; Yordon cites ‘dedicated staff’”
https://www.nancyonnorwalk.com/2018/02/adamowski-highlights-next-gen-gains-yordon-cites-dedicated-staff/

Feb. 23: “NPS scores top marks in NextGEN – again”
https://www.nancyonnorwalk.com/2019/02/nps-scores-top-marks-in-nextgen-again/

The NextGEN results were also mentioned in this story:

Jan. 15: “Norwalk BoE will tout successes in request for $12.9 million boost”
https://www.nancyonnorwalk.com/2019/01/norwalk-boe-looks-to-tout-successes-in-12-9-million-budget-ask/

The Hour has written about these results as well.

I trust that if Nancy has new information about the NextGEN results from this meeting, and deems it newsworthy, there will be another story on the subject.

In my experience Nancy does not make stories about anything other than the facts of what happened. These facts evoke differing emotions, but good, bad, or indifferent, they are the facts, and we are lucky to have them.

Bruce Kimmel March 7, 2019 at 3:25 pm

Bob, I think you’ve missed a basic journalistic point. On Tuesday night, the Norwalk Board of Education spent more than 90 minutes discussing in detail the latest state report on the Norwalk public schools. As you know, we are once again deemed the number one urban district in the state. In fact, the audience applauded when this fact was acknowledged. There were a variety of interesting details discussed at the meeting that have not yet appeared in the coverage; moreover, like media outlets across the world, basic facts are often repeated. This was a newsworthy discussion, yet it was not covered at all. The question is, why?

Every day, the NY Times and other outlets print stories that essentially add a single fact to already covered developments. That’s basic.

Interestingly, the juxtaposition of the Accountability Report discussion and the accusations against Board members would have made for a fascinating contrast — and a fascinating story. It would have also created a broader perspective for your readers.

Mike Barbis March 7, 2019 at 8:32 pm

Bob Welsh,
I agree with Bruce Kimmel, you have totally missed the point here. You cite two stories from 2018, that’s old news on old data so immaterial to our discussion.
We are talking about the most recent results, which were only released on February 20, 2019. You did cover this in just one story, in reaction to our original news release. You have yet to cover the detail which was presented on Tuesday March 5th in a 90+ minute presentation. This presentation broke out some amazing facts which NON has never mentioned. Let me share a few:
1. 63% of our schools are Category 1 or 2 (the two highest categories). The state average is 47%.
2. We have the lowest achievement gap for our minority students in the State
3. Our overall Accountability Index rivals Wilton and Weston (NPS at 76.8 versus Weston 79.1 and Wilton 79.6)
I think those three facts are very newsworthy yet nary a mention from NON. Don’t you think they are newsworthy?

Bob Welsh March 7, 2019 at 8:45 pm

Bruce, if I wrote that no further coverage of the accountability report was warranted after four prior mentions, yes I would be missing a basic journalistic point. Instead I wrote in response to a commenter who stated that “there has been virtually no news” about board plans. You know this is demonstrably false. There have been three stories about the Accountability Report alone, and countless other stories about other board initiatives related to the SOP. In addition Nancy was the only reporter to attend the board’s three-day retreat, which resulted in detailed, valuable reporting that went on for more than a week afterwards.

You asked why this story doesn’t include more about the Accountability Report. I don’t know. I do know that Nancy is more sleep-deprived than usual because all week she has been waking up early to attend the POKO litigation in Stamford, which resulted in today’s report — available nowhere else — that there’s a new plan to re-start the project, going to the RDA and CC next week. I also know that Nancy values thoroughness, and could have decided that doing justice to the 90-minute discussion you mentioned would have resulted in a story that exceeded 4,000 words. As I said, I trust that if Nancy has new information about the NextGEN results from this meeting, and deems it newsworthy, there will be another report.

Bruce Kimmel March 7, 2019 at 10:07 pm

Bob. Could you let me know how many POKO Milligan stories have run in NON. Thousands and thousands of words on legal minutia that not many folks care about.

Ken March 13, 2019 at 9:30 am

Im curious why the NAACP is given so much consideration on matters like this. their membership and efforts do NOT reflect racial diversity or equality in any way.

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