Letter: New Norwalk superintendent will deserve support, not NFT rancor

By Peter Berman

NORWALK, Conn. – The vigorous objections of Norwalk Federation of Teachers union chief Bruce Mellion to the BOE’s decision to maintain the confidentiality of its superintendent search finalists is another reminder the NFT’s extraordinary hostility to both the BOE and our Superintendent’s. The NFT’s monthly Vanguard publications are replete with denunciations of both the BOE, our superintendents and target individual BOE members. Why Norwalk’s public school teachers continue to support reportedly the most hostile public school union leadership in the state remains puzzling. No other city is subject to such a hostile teachers union.

By keeping the superintendent applicants confidential the BOE was following standard professional job search. No well qualified applicant would apply for another position if their search is publicly advertised.

Objections to this well established protocol must have other fish to fry. The BOE was simply following best standard professional search practice. And merits our appreciation.

The BOE’s performance in the superintendent selection process is yet another reminder that the BOE — far and away our most important elected public body — is both worthy of our respect and admiration. Just last year the BOE secured a historic arbitration award that not only exposed the unprecedented “plums” in the NFT contracts going back 30 years but gave the city a $2.6 million dollar freeze. By noting that our teachers are the fifth highest paid in the state the Arbitration Award Panel highlighted the link between Norwalk’s excessive taxation required to fund excessive teacher salaries and declining home values.

It’s a good bet the NFT will “welcome” the incoming superintendent with the same hostility that befell former Superintendent Susan Marks. Lets encourage our BOE and the community to support fully our incoming superintendent and let the NFT know in advance that we will not tolerate its highly destructive and demeaning behaviors. Our superintendent is far and away our most important city official and deserves the full support of all us, especially the public  school teachers funded by 70 percent of city’s budget.

For the first time in quite some years an incoming superintendent is reporting to a highly respected and well functioning BOE under admirable leadership. If there was ever a time for the entire Norwalk community to support our public school system to do the best we can for our children and community now is that time. With an incoming superintendent selected by a respected and well supported BOE Norwalk has a good chance of regaining its once vaunted reputation of having admired public schools. An openly hostile teacher’s union — despite the high salaries — remains our primary roadblock.

Peter I Berman


5 responses to “Letter: New Norwalk superintendent will deserve support, not NFT rancor”

  1. Oldtimer

    Sounds like Peter already knows the new superintendent and has a good opinion of him or her. Also sounds like he has a very low opinion of Bruce Mellion. If Peter had any understanding of the responsibilities of a union leader, he would certainly have a different opinion, and some respect for Bruce Mellion. Bruce is obliged to work for the best interests of the teachers. He takes his obligations very seriously. Peter would expect no less, if Bruce worked for him.

  2. M. Murray’s

    It is amazin how many other districts don’t follow “best practice” and have at least finalists introduced to the community. It is also now the obligation of the union and interested individuals to delve into the background of the selected candidate. He may be a great candidate, or as recent history shows, a poor choice who will only last a year or two. Either way it is unfortunate that the Board chose to secretly select the new Superintendent. As far as being te 5th highest paid staff in te state, that does not tell me a lot either. I would like to know who the top 10 are to determine where we fit in regarding Fairfield county, where the cost of living is higher. If surrounding municipalities are much lower, you have a valid point. If everyone in the county is in the same ballpark, that statistic doesn’t mean much.

  3. Oldtimer

    Don’t we loose a fair number of younger teachers to nearby communities that pay more ? I think that was one of the issues raised during the arbitration hearing. Our teachers tend to be older and in higher pay grades based on years of service. If we could keep more younger teachers, in lower pay grades, the average teacher pay would be much lower.

  4. BSmith

    Mr Mellion does work in the best interest of the teachers. He does not work for the students or taxpayers. They need to take care of themselves.

  5. LWitherspoon

    I agree 100%. Mellion’s sole duty is to get as much as he can for teachers. He doesn’t work for students or taxpayers – we are on our own. Expecially since a number of our elected representatives devote more effort to representing the interests of municipal employee unions than to representing the interest of taxpayers as a whole. In some cases, we have been deserted by some of the very same people we elected to serve our best interests. With union heads and some elected officials aligned against us, what chance does the ordinary taxpayer have?

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