By Peter Berman
NORWALK, Conn. – The vigorous objections of Norwalk Federation of Teachers union chief Bruce Mellion to the Board of Education’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 superintendents. 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 “short list” of superintendent applicants confidential the BOE is 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 freeze. By noting that our teachers are the 5th 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 Supterintendent 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