Friday, May 23, 2014

NBEA wins three modifications to Parker plan

The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education has approved three modifications to the Parker Elementary School turnaround plan that were sought by the New Bedford Educators Association.

Several other proposed modifications were rejected or not acted on by BESE members at the lengthy hearing on the appeal, which was held at Dennis-Yarmouth Regional High School on May 19.

The appeal was presented to the BESE by Laurie Houle, the MTA attorney representing the NBEA. Education Commissioner Mitchell Chester had asked the board to reject all of the modifications suggested at this stage in the process of developing a plan for the school, which he has designated as Level 5, or "chronically underperforming."

"I appreciate the hard work put into the appeal by the MTA and I am gratified that several board members stood up to the commissioner on three important provisions in the turnaround plan," said NBEA President Lou St. John. "That said, I am disappointed that a majority of the board members were not willing to modify the proposed working conditions since those conditions have already driven experienced, dedicated teachers out of the Parker School."

The three modifications the board accepted were guaranteeing Parker teachers at least 90 minutes a week of dedicated common planning and collaboration time, setting a deadline for the receiver to develop and implement strategies for attracting more Parker neighborhood students to the school's preK program, and creating and implementing a plan for upgrading technology at the preK-5 school.

The board did not approve several other modifications sought by the NBEA, including changes regarding a new salary system for the school. Under the commissioner's plan, teachers are required to work 29 percent more time but will not receive a commensurate increase in pay. In addition, the contractual salary schedule will be replaced by a performance-based pay system in which teacher evaluations and student growth measures will be used to help determine whether a teacher moves up on the new career ladder.

Two of the nine board members, labor representative Harneen Chernow and parent representative Ruth Kaplan, were the only members to support modifying the commissioner's proposed salary system. Both also voted with the majority on the three modifications that were approved, the first by a vote of 6-3 and the other two by votes of 5-4.

Houle argued that the drastic changes in working conditions, lack of teacher input into how the Parker School will be run and lack of details in many sections of the commissioner's plan were key reasons that all but three Parker staff members declined to reapply for their jobs. She argued that experienced, qualified teachers are unlikely to want to work at the school - or stay there if they are hired - and that the turnover will hurt student academic achievement.

The BESE is scheduled to hear appeals on June 9 from the local unions seeking modifications in the turnaround plans for the other three Level 5 schools; two of the schools are in Boston and one is in Holyoke. The MTA will represent the Holyoke Teachers Association in seeking modifications to the plan for the Morgan Full Service Community School.


Anonymous said...

Small victory but important!
I can't believe that anyone would argue against planning time, early interventions as tech upgrades.
The commissioner should know full well how much technology the school is going to need to be ready for the PARCC

Anonymous said...

It's my understanding that this is the first time the Board of Ed voted against Chester.

Anonymous said...

What about the rest of the elementary schools in NB?? People from PRAB have been in our building and If they really were looking at learning they would have seen the antiquated technology in each classroom. Really, you want a "crown jewel"? Well, you better get A LOT more money to bring this school system up to date in EVERY classroom, EVERY day, for EVERY child!

Anonymous said...

I hope Chester gets used to more push back as Barbara Madeloni takes the MTA to a stronger place in Massachusetts ed reform.

Anonymous said...

If you paid the teachers what they actually deserve at Parker, old pi-diddy wouldn't be able to pay her crooked cronies and herself the huge pays they receive for doing nothing!

Anonymous said...

How can teacher pay be tied into student performance??? What does it mean for Sped teachers? A 60 IQ is a 60 IQ. A brain damaged from in utero drug use can't be fixed by a teacher.Have the decision makers thought this through?

Anonymous said...

All I need are students with parents that care enough about their children to talk to me, show up to support their child when needed, look at homework, and support the overall goal of graduation. Parents are still telling me they didn't know their little darling isn't in school. Isn't that truancy? Oh we don't punish that anymore!

Anonymous said...

^ Why should they care when those truant students are their throwaway population? It is easier for them to turn a blind eye and pretend the problem doesn't exist.