Mayoral Debate: Thoughts, Opinions and More…
We decided to host a debate for Waterbury’s mayoral candidates so we could help the voting public make distinctions between the men running for our cities top elected position. Watch the video. We asked for help from community stakeholders to come up with questions, but only one group submitted a theme for a question (Concerned Black Clergy Council of Waterbury). We would like to thank Pastor Wade and the C.B.C.C.W. for their support. We would like to acknowledge the professionalism, flexibility, and willingness of the Waterbury Arts Magnet School‘s staff. Nicole Steck, Chip Mackokas and their students provided staging, sound, and lighting at a professional level. These people were largely responsible for our event being successful.
In our opinion the candidates were challenged to identify specific measures to solve educational dilemmas affecting students’ experiences in the Waterbury public schools. Each candidate received the same six questions seven days before the debate. Here are the four questions we asked:
What will your administration do to facilitate the increased hiring and retention of non-white school professionals, and what accountability measures will you implement to ensure this happens?
Knowing that educational quality varies on a school-to-school basis, what is your plan to provide parents with choices and the opportunity to improve prospects for their students in the Waterbury Public Schools?
As our student population continues to grow, to what extent will your administration increase the General Fund Allocation to attract highly qualified school professionals, to ensure proper amounts of resources for our students, and improve student performance?
As the city’s top executive, in what ways will you negotiate the new WTA contract to ensure students’ needs are prioritized over employee benefits?
We don’t want to critique the candidates as individuals, but we must clarify our stance on a few issues. First, we don’t accept victim-blaming of parents or students for performance outcomes as anything less than scapegoating. Its a poor practice and should be admonished as an oppressive rhetorical device. In many ways its connected to racists tropes responsible for the lie that Black and Hispanic families are somehow insufficient. Second, is the claim that the Waterbury Public Schools can add the requisite resources without increasing the General Fund Allocation. This shows the use of poor logic because the two claims are mutually exclusive. Finally, we must make it clear that if next mayor of the city of Waterbury doesn’t commit to be an innovative leader and work to solve the educational dilemmas experienced by students, their term will be a failure.
We asked the candidates to sign a pledge and Jimmie Griffin was the only one to sign. Our pledge is no different than any other campaign promise. However, out of fear of being held accountable, ignorance of what we asked, or disagreeing with what we asked for them to commit to, three chose not to.