August 13, 2012
The New Bedford Educators Association is opposed to all efforts to create “Innovation Schools” within the New Bedford Public Schools. We believe that such institutions would cause irreparable harm to the district and the vast majority of students that it serves. True “innovation” can only come when the district works with teachers as partners to enhance student achievement.
There is no doubt that many of the decisions made at these schools would have an impact on the rest of the district’s schools and we cannot support an initiative that provides special treatment to a small number of schools while disrupting the rest of our schools.
Since these schools would make their own policies, students who don’t conform to the behavior or educational standards of the school could be counseled out and be sent back to other schools in the district, just like the charter schools do now. Similarly, students who drop out of the autonomous school would most likely be sent back to other public schools in New Bedford.
To maintain the small class sizes the autonomous schools promise, the classes in other district schools would have to absorb any overflow of students.
It is our belief that these schools would siphon money from the district’s budget, much like charter schools do now. Their budgets would be secure and well-maintained. The rest of the district would have to spread its financial resources even thinner while trying to provide a quality education.
Ultimately, as proposed, there is little difference between a charter school and a small autonomous school under the state’s Innovation School model. In fact, this proposal is nothing more than a Trojan Horse that would introduce quasi-charter schools, create a two-tiered education system for our students, and reduce collective bargaining for teachers involved.
NBEA cannot and will not support any Innovation School proposals that would create an unequal educational system of “haves” and “have nots.” We believe that the district would be strengthened by a partnership between the administration and the Association as is evidenced by the creation of the Engineering Academy within the structure of New Bedford High School.
Louis St. John for the Board of Directors, New Bedford Educators Association