Now Mr. Vallas, a veteran of big-city education battles, faces the once-unimaginable prospect that he will be driven out of town by summer’s end. A retired judge filed a lawsuit arguing that his lack of an education degree makes him unfit for the office, despite his years of experience running other school districts. Last month, a superior court judge agreed, and now Mr. Vallas has appealed the case to the Connecticut Supreme Court.
The battle in Bridgeport highlights the divisiveness of change in American education. Critics of the existing system are pushing centralized control, weaker teacher tenure protections and expanded charter schools, and some have made installing superintendents with backgrounds outside of education a priority, causing rifts in many districts.
Arne Duncan, the federal education secretary, said the opposition to Mr. Vallas was “beyond ludicrous.” He said too many school districts were afraid of innovation, clinging to “archaic ideas.”
“This, to me, is just another painfully obvious, crystal-clear example of people caught in an old paradigm,” Mr. Duncan said in an interview. “This is the tip of the iceberg.”
Mr. Vallas was hired in late 2011 to much fanfare: a nationally known advocate of change in education, with stints in Philadelphia, Chicago and New Orleans on his résumé, coming to the aid of a modest school district mired in budget cuts.
Much more on Paul Vallas, here, including a recent Madison appearance.