Wednesday, January 8, 2014

MTA supports New Bedford High School educators

New Bedford School Superintendent Pia Durkin informed New Bedford High School educators just before winter break that she intends to implement a school “turnaround plan” under which all staff will be required to reapply for their jobs and that at least 50 percent of them will not be rehired.

This announcement sent shock waves throughout the district. NBHS has been designated a Level 4 school and therefore is subject to school improvement interventions under state and federal laws and regulations. In order to be eligible for federal funds to support a school improvement plan, a district must choose from one of four redesign strategies. However, of the four redesign strategies available, the “turnaround” model that requires changing half the staff is the most drastic. Based on the experience of the other Level 4 schools in the state, the more collaborative “transformation” model has a greater track record of success.

The district began negotiating with the New Bedford Educators Association over the impact of the proposed changes on January 7.

The NBEA and the Massachusetts Teachers Association both strongly oppose the involuntary dismissal of half the staff and are urging district administrators and the political leaders in New Bedford to reconsider their decision. The NBEA is asking MTA members to attend a rally on January 17, at 3:30 p.m., at New Bedford City Hall to support NBHS teachers and protest the mass dismissal of staff, which threatens to disrupt the education of high school students as well as the livelihood of educators.

Below is a statement on this issue that we released today.

The MTA strongly opposes school turnaround models that rely on the forced turnover of large numbers of staff. These strategies are disruptive to the lives of educators as well as to the students and communities they serve. The negative impact on the morale of educators in the district from such an action would greatly impair the district’s ability to attract and retain highly qualified educators in the future and would lead to an atmosphere of fear, anger, sadness and distrust for years to come.

The MTA believes that a far better way to serve NBHS students is for organizations representing educators, administrators, parents, students, business and community leaders to sit down together and work on a school improvement plan that:

• is based on a shared vision of success and interventions and strategies supported by solid educational research;
• provides consistent district and school-based leadership;
• builds on the strengths of the school and community; and
• provides supports, resources and professional development where there are deficiencies.

For this reason, we call upon the administration of the New Bedford Public Schools and the city’s political leadership to rescind their decision to involuntarily dismiss all of the NBHS staff and require them to reapply.
 
We ask that the district leadership meet with the union leadership and educators at the high school immediately to construct a meaningful plan with measurable improvement goals. This plan should identify specific resources and supports to meet these goals.

NBHS educators have long worked very hard to provide their students with a quality education despite working under five superintendents in six years. They welcome new strategies to improve the academic achievement, graduation rates and social and emotional health of their students. If the educators and administrators of New Bedford High School are committed to the implementation of a collaboratively developed strategic turnaround plan, then the educators and administrators should be permitted to remain working at the newly designed High School.

The MTA believes that this approach has the greatest likelihood of improving student success through a process that can be supported by all parties involved.

16 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thank God! For a while we thought you forgot about us ...

Anonymous said...

Better late than never MTA

Anonymous said...

Better late than never. Will MTA President Paul Toner attend the rally? Does he know where New Bedford is located?

Anonymous said...

Beautiful written, and what many have been reiterating for a very long time.

Anonymous said...

A large number of students attending NBHS, and across the district, are English Language Learners. This presents quite a challenge: Cognitive Academic Language Proficiency or
CALP refers to formal academic learning. This includes listening, speaking, reading, and writing about subject area content material. This level of language learning is essential for students to succeed in school. Students need time and support to become proficient in academic areas. This usually takes from five to seven years, but what happens when they come to us at the high school level? Their time is limited. And, many of these students do not plan to attend college for many reasons: Immigration status, English proficiency, the immediate need to earn wages, not a priority, etc. So, what alternative tract is available to them that correlates to Career and College Readiness? This is not a level playing field, and certainly biased.

Anonymous said...

Check your email; thanks Paul and MTA, far too little and far too late!

Anonymous said...

Paul Toner and MTA,too little too late! Shutting the barn door after the barn burns to the ground.

Anonymous said...

The best teachers teach from the heart.

R.W.DePina said...

Happy to stand in solidarity with New Bedford teachers Jan. 17th! Coming down from Brockton.

Anonymous said...

Way too little. Way to late. The silence was deafening. I have been wondering what I have been paying my dues for all these years. Some support when you need it might be good. You think! If anyone is considering a run for Paul Toner's job, Now would be a good time!

Anonymous said...

I like Barbara Madeloni for MTA Prez...she pledged to help NBPS weeks ago.


https://www.facebook.com/barbaraformta

Anonymous said...

The sleeping giant has been awakened! I welcome the fury it brings!

Anonymous said...

I appreciate Paul and Tim's support.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Paul.

Anonymous said...

For those who support Paul Toner, we don't need lip service we need troops. Let us see if the cavalry will arrive on Jan. 17th in front of city hall. If the MTA can support us in that regard then I will humbly apologize.

Anonymous said...

I am a graduated student from the New Bedford Public School system, I have now been out of high school for 5 years and graduated from college with a degree in the sciences. Many of my colleagues have gone onto college, so I have to disagree with the above comment that states that "many of these students do not plan to attend college for ... reasons." I will say attaining my Bachelor's degree was no easy feat to attain with the poor background I unfortunately received from the New Bedford public school system, but that was not for lack of good teachers, but many times my GREAT teachers had to deal with the students who were unruly in the classroom. The answer is NOT to fire amazing teachers that seriously care about the students, but maybe to focus on the students and target why some are acting out (i.e. learning disabilities, attention deficit disorders). Any and all students have the OPPORTUNITY to go to college, but unfortunately, many who ASSUME that "many do not want to go" is the attitude that hinders learning and progress. Also, having been victim to this attitude of "X student will never make it past X grade" I have to say that it was INCREDIBLY difficult to catch up to my peers in college who were geared from an early age to attend. The problem here is not rooted in the teachers, it's in the system... if you don't believe me, go ahead and administer the same test to a sophomore in Boston Latin and one from NBHS and tell me which scores higher.