Out of five candidates, Jackie Heftman, Julia Wade, and Gary Klein received the nomination from the Democratic City Committee of Stamford Thursday evening for the Board of Education. Wade and Heftman both currently serve on the board, although neither received an endorsement from the nominating committee. After being nominated by their peers at the meeting they both received the two highest votes.
Heftman said she was “chagrined” to see the middle school grouping discussion become a major factor in determining the nomination committee’s endorsement.
“It became a discussion about grouping,” Heftman said. “The state has the highest achievement gap in the country. Stamford has an achievement gap. Whether you want to call it ability or flexible grouping, as soon as you divide children based on their ability, you wind up with classrooms divided between white children and those of color.”
Heftman has served on the Board of Education since 2008 and was the president during the 2009-2010 term. She has also served on the city’s zoning board from 1994-2005 and assisted with former mayor and current Governor Malloy’s campaign in 2006.
“Everybody is entitled to an excellent education,” Wade said to the Democratic Committee. “Please join me in supporting education for everyone.”
Although nominees traditionally do not speak before receiving an endorsement, committee member John Zelinsky motioned to have each candidate speak for a few minutes so the audience could get to know them better. His motion passed overwhelmingly.
Klein along with Mara Siladi and Pamela Scott were originally endorsed by the nominating committee that consists of 10 members. Klein, a lifelong resident of the city, served on the Democratic City Committee and the Environmental Protection Board throughout the 1990s. Scott, also born and raised in Stamford, worked for the city for 21 years and served 11 years on the Board of Directors for the Stamford Federal Credit Union. Siladi has spent her entire career with Stamford Public Schools beginning as a special education teacher and eventually working on the administrative side for the board of education.
Wendy Lecker, immediate past co-president of the Stamford Parent Teacher Council, felt middle school grouping, which has been a point of contention at past board of education meetings, played a large factor in determining the committee’s original endorsements.
“I don’t know what went on in the committees, but after talking to people on the committee I got a sense that that’s what it was. As Jackie said, 15,000 students [in the district] is a lot bigger than just grades 6 and 7,” said Lecker as to why she felt their role on the board is much larger than that one issue. Lecker, personally, supports Heftman and Wade on the board.
“They are prepared, they do their homework, they come to every meeting and they are respectful. They’re not only dedicated to the board but to their party.”