This is what the least attended City Wide PTO forum in recent memory looks like.
Here are my initial thoughts on last night's Danbury City-Wide PTO educational forum in Danbury.
1. POOR ATTENDANCE: As someone who has attended and videotaped every PTO forum (dating back to 2007), after you factor out the connected people to charter schools and the candidates, last night's event was the least attended forum I've witnessed.
The low turnout could be due to the early start time of the forum. Traditionally, the event is held later in the evening instead of a 6 PM start time which is too early for most adults with children to attend. The low turnout could also indicate that education is not the central issue that campaigns want you to believe.
2. The MULTIPLE disruptions from OPPONENTS and SUPPORTERS of charter schools were childish and stupid: The nonsense from supporters and opponents of charter schools was sickening, disrespectful, and has no business in the public discourse. The people wanted to hear from the members of the Board of Education about their views on policy. Instead, people witnessed a mainsplaining shoutfest that was complete with numerous interruptions from a bunch of goofballs who are NOT running for elected office.
3. IT'S TIME TO REMOVE THE CANDIDATES FOR MAYOR FROM THE FORUM.
We learned very little from the mayoral candidates regarding their SPECIFIC plan to address decades-old educational concerns. Meanwhile, we had VERY GOOD responses from the candidates of the BOE. They are responsible for the bulk of the educational decisions in the city and deserve more attention than what they received.
Mayoral candidates have an entire mayoral forum where they can debate their differences. Candidates for the BOE candidates, who usually receive little attention from the media, should not be forced to share their time in the spotlight with mayoral candidates who have no say in the day-to-day operations of the school system.
THUMBS UP: Ralph Pietrafesa, Rachel Chaleski.
Of all of the BOE candidates, Ralph Pietrafesa, Rachel Chaleski hit it out of the park with detailed and informed responses to the questions. It was clear that both candidates did their homework and illustrated that they deserved the public's vote.
THUMBS DOWN: EVERY candidate who was more interested in tossing around old recycled political/partisan talking points instead of offering meaningful insight and clarity on real education concerns the BOE will face in the future.
From the defenders of the state legislative delegation's inability to provide Danbury a fair share of ECS funding to the childish temper tantrums over charter schools, let us hope that the public will award the most egregious violators of public decency with a thumbs down vote at the polls.
BIGGEST LOSERS: The public.
Last night's forum was the ONE AND ONLY time the public will see candidates in person before election day. Unfortunately, for the most part, we were presented with a partisan mud-slinging show that lacked details on BOE-related matters that the public deserves.