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Vallas Supporters Ousted in Bridgeport Board Elections

Three school board candidates in Bridgeport, Conn., who were supported by the Democratic party and who were supportive of embattled Superintendent Paul Vallas were uniformly defeated by challengers who oppose Vallas' reforms in a primary earlier this week, the Connecticut Post reports.

The candidates who had been endorsed by the Democratic party in the city were defeated by Andre Baker, Howard Gardner, and Dave Hennessey, all of whom had the backing of the district's teachers' union and the Connecticut Working Families Party.

The primary winners will run for five open seats on the district's school board later this November.

It may seem like small potatoes, but school politics in Bridgeport were in the national spotlight this summer. Vallas, who previously ran school districts in Philadelphia, New Orleans, and Chicago, was the subject of a court case in which it was alleged that he lacks the necessary educational coursework for his job. A judge ruled that Vallas was unqualified and should leave his post, but the case is being appealed and the superintendent remains in office.

Baker, Gardner, and Hennessey have all said that the district should have a different superintendent, while the endorsed candidates had stood by Vallas. A ruling on the appeal is expected this fall.

Meanwhile, the board was split for most of this past year, with five of its nine members usually voting with the superintendent. The outcome of Tuesday's election means that the balance is likely to tip, with a majority of board members opposing Vallas' plans.

The discontent in Bridgeport is being viewed by some as a flashpoint of bigger disagreements over the role of standardized tests and accountability, charter schools, and the importance of traditional certifications for educators, among other issues. For instance, FairTest, which opposes the use of standardized tests, quickly released a statement this week saying that the election showed Bridgeport voters rejecting "test-and-punish policies."

This Education Week story about Vallas and the court case has more about Bridgeport.

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