Tuesday, May 20, 2014

New Bedford teachers and their union are being scapegoated, and not duly respected ... By Terry Mozaz

I want to applaud Bruce Ditata's defense of New Bedford teachers (Standard-Times, May 12) because he so well expresses my belief that they and their union are being scapegoated, and not duly respected.

The Standard-Times, on the other hand, has missed yet two more opportunities to support and show respect to New Bedford teachers, their union, and their leadership (through Carolee Matsumoto's essay on May 9 and in the newspaper's Our View editorial on May 11).

Dr. Matsumoto's letter deals in generalities and cliches. She says Superintendent Pia Durkin is making all of the changes that will make the city's education system a "crown jewel" for New Bedford, and states that many educators across the state have expressed their confidence in her, but she fails to give examples of changes or name names (I don't think this would be considered good-essay form in MCAS!). She also claims that 41 percent of the teachers have chosen not to vote, but she has no idea if they have chosen not to vote or if they were unable to vote (we all know about tiredness with an issue and with elections). In any case, 500 voting no confidence are a considerable number of teachers expressing their feelings about the issue.

Standard-Times Editor Bob Unger's view is more of the same. He does not miss the opportunity to question New Bedford Educators Association President Lou St John's motives, yet he brings forward School Committee member Jack Nobrega's thoughts when we all know he has been a school committee member since forever, and he has allowed the situation we have in our schools to fester. It is also ironic that Mr. Unger's view begins by bringing up Ronald Reagan, a symbol of union busting in our country; one has to wonder where his feeling is in his constant and subtle opposition to anything coming from the teachers union.

Regardless, Dr. Durkin may or may not succeed in accomplishing the turn-around plan at New Bedford High School, but one thing is certain, she will get the funds that the school should have gotten many years ago to make sure all students get the education they deserve, so we better see an improvement in our schools! And while we are in the subject of money, let's make one thing clear: the funds should come from the state, not from the New Bedford homeowners. We are taking a heavier burden of special needs (be they emotional, physical or language based) than other communities in the state, thus the state must take more financial responsibility for our students.

Hopefully, all this controversy will bring real solutions to the problems we have: co-taught classes with both English- and Spanish-speaking teachers (not aides) for English language learners (it is shameful to see how we let our Hispanic student population fall through the cracks); shops and courses that welcome and attract the less academically oriented student. Our New Bedford Vocational School does not have the room or the interest for this type of student, therefore we must make our high school a school where all students have the opportunity to develop into responsible members of society. The students could graduate ready to go to college or with the skills necessary to go into the workforce.

40 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hear, hear! Well said. The students of New Bedford will thank you later.

Anonymous said...

The negative statements about our union are totally absurd. Lou is doing what a union president should do, represent teachers. That is his job. Due to dirty politics and underhandedness, we could also benefit from legal representation. Teachers are used, abused, and discarded. Durkin, mayor, and SC are untrustworthy and harmful. It's a mirage. I hope the public comprehends their ill-fated agenda.

Anonymous said...

It would be interesting data to see the ratio of people on public assistance in New Bedford compared to other cities in MA and the amount of state aid given to the school system. People on public assistance are obviously not contributing to the tax base. It can't all be on the shoulders of NB taxpayers or on the shoulders of teachers who not only contribute by paying taxes but also contribute regularly buying supplies, food, and even clothing for their students.

Anonymous said...

Lou is like the Lorax . He speaks for the teachers. Similar storyline???

Anonymous said...

Writing 101-if you make a statement that you believe is factual-show the evidence to backup your statements. Assuming something makes an ASS out you-Ms. M!

Anonymous said...

The politics in this city are so disgusting. I have always loved saying that I live in New Bedford with its rich history and cultural offerings. I am so sickened by what is going on - people saying at dinner parties I know a school committee member I can get a job at such and such a school. It is gross.

Anonymous said...

NBVoc has become such an elite school that many students are not able to access the training they need to be "career ready". Thank you for bringing this point to the forefront. We need to provide for all of New Bedford's students, not just the college bound and NBVoc elite or we will continue to disengage many of our teens.

Anonymous said...

78% of our students receive free or reduced lunch.

Anonymous said...

Last year, the above comments were brought up and advocation for students on an alternative tract resulted in retaliation and inhumane brutality. It wasn't part of the proposal.

Anonymous said...

Stop Blaming Teachers

Those who scapegoat teachers may have much to gain, but students have much more to lose.

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines scapegoat as one that bears the blame for others, or one that is the object of irrational hostility. Those of us in the education profession would define scapegoat this way: teacher.

Scapegoating teachers has become so popular with policymakers and politicians, the media, and even members of the public that it has blurred the reality of what’s really happening in education. What’s more, it’s eroding a noble profession and wreaking havoc on student learning.

Anonymous said...

Attacks on teachers have only worsened

Anonymous said...

NB teachers are the culture heroes of our time. Daily they are asked to solve problems that baffle the rest of us. Daily they are asked to work with resources nowhere near commensurate with the task. And daily they are berated by politicians, the public, and the press for their alleged failures and inadequacies.

Anonymous said...

“Bad teachers” are being used as the excuse to turn schools into one more arena for corporate development.

Anonymous said...

teachers are not to blame for the city’s current economic problems

Anonymous said...

I would like to say that teachers are tired of being used as pawns and scapegoats by politicians, profiteers, and pundits.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps we should value the diversity of occupations that make for a strong society and stop using our schools as political red herrings and as laboratories for unproven social experiments.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps we should value the diversity of occupations that make for a strong society and stop using our schools as political red herrings and as laboratories for unproven social experiments.

Anonymous said...

Pia came to Hayden McFadden this afternoon. We were told we would have a principal change. Our principal is being relocated. She is wonderful. People have stayed at the school despite longer hours, more work, and level 4 status because this principal is hard working, rolls up her sleeves and digs in, and respects her staff. When asked why staff were not informed of this change before May postings, we got this reply from Pia " We have only had this information for two weeks" "We wanted a stable staff base" Seems to me postings didn't close until the 14th. That was last week. It would have still been open for people to bid out if we go two weeks back. Hmmm.. doesn't seem transparent at all. Seems well planned. Locking people in. Despite nice words that we are respected and valued, seems that the situation was manipulated. Doesn't seem fair to a staff who worked under a tyrant, survived, and stayed because we believed we could make a difference and truly love the kids we serve. Loyalty and commitment were met with betrayal of trust. No confidence in this kind of leadership.

Anonymous said...

Lou, what if anything can be done to expose this unfair situation?

Anonymous said...

Wake up ... are you really surprised ? Pia likes conflict and not harmony----
she does not value your work or opinion --- or she wouldn't have removed the principal --- she did it in contrast to probably what all your staff wants . If you think otherwise - you have alot of learning to still do.

Anonymous said...

Wow the principal shuffle continues.... She is a great leader and has done so much for the culture at the school! I bet pia has to move her or the state will take over!

Carolyn Roberts said...

I've been saying that for years about GNBVoc. When I was high school age - Voc was for the students who struggled academically. they could learn a skill. Now there's no where for them. Voc only takes the high scoring scholars and public schools don't have shops anymore. Then you wonder why the dropout rate is high.

Anonymous said...

Shuffling well-liked principals is a strategic move to break up a team in which Durkin feels threatened. This is a divide and conquer technique to force teachers to feel isolated and without support or encouragement. Her person will micromanage, sabotage and sell us out.

Anonymous said...

Superintendent Longo got rid of some really good shop classes years ago, now the students have no where to learn a "trade." The premise at the time was . . . . we don't need these classes offered at the high school! They can go to Voc to learn a trade! Well, look how that turned out!?! Another big waste of time is teaching all the students two levels of algebra! It's now a graduation requirement. How will two levels of algebra help them when they can't even find a percentage of a whole number when paying a tip or solving how much they will save on a sales discount? I see high school students every day with no basic math and writing skills! It is very sad.

Anonymous said...

If you like your principal --- pretend you don't . Otherwise you'll lose them . Buildings that don't have grievances don't fall in line with what Durkin wants. .

Anonymous said...

I think Pia Durkin could recommend a new name for this city and Mitchell would endorse her idea. Is she never wrong? Are we to believe our gifted teachers are actually selfish, incompetent, greedy union thugs? They just don't understand her greatness? The reform magic is not working on the actual people that give students their futures.

Gen Eric said...

Most people are dumb enough to believe anything if they're provided with someone to follow and someone to blame.

In New Bedford, Pia Durkin is skillfully providing both.

Anonymous said...

It just came to me! Durkin reminds me of Judge Judy, except Pia isn't law abiding and fair.

Anonymous said...

I love my principal but I won't say a thing because the vulture will snatch her up!

Anonymous said...

What is sad is that the SEI teachers are being overlooked and shut out of the RETELL course offered at no cost to all classroom teachers. These individuals posses a plethora of knowledge and could very effectively be used as ESL classroom consultants if NBPS would invest a mere 15 hours in the "bridge" course they need to obtain ESL certification. Instead, Sonia Wamsely asked the SC for 18 new ESL certified teachers to do the job. What a slap in the face to seasoned SEI teachers. Ironically, the SC only approved 3 instead of 18. Now, Wamsely is running around like a maniac trying to get SEI teachers and Gen Ed. Teachers to test ESL Students using newly purchased test protocol. It seems that SEI teachers are good for slave labor but not good enough to be used to assist colleagues in the assimilation of bilingual students into mainstream classes. Shame on you Sonia for not giving your staff the benefit of doubt ... This is no way to build teacher trust for the betterment of bilingual and monolingual kids!

Anonymous said...

What is sad is that the SEI teachers are being overlooked and shut out of the RETELL course offered at no cost to all classroom teachers. These individuals posses a plethora of knowledge and could very effectively be used as ESL classroom consultants if NBPS would invest a mere 15 hours in the "bridge" course they need to obtain ESL certification. Instead, Sonia Wamsely asked the SC for 18 new ESL certified teachers to do the job. What a slap in the face to seasoned SEI teachers. Ironically, the SC only approved 3 instead of 18. Now, Wamsely is running around like a maniac trying to get SEI teachers and Gen Ed. Teachers to test ESL Students using newly purchased test protocol. It seems that SEI teachers are good for slave labor but not good enough to be used to assist colleagues in the assimilation of bilingual students into mainstream classes. Shame on you Sonia for not giving your staff the benefit of doubt ... This is no way to build teacher trust for the betterment of bilingual and monolingual kids!

Anonymous said...

Thinking along the Pia logic that came to Hayden McFadden...She stated that she "will not take responsibility for anything that happened before July 1st." If she is exempt, why are teachers being held accountable for deficits that occurred before Sept. 1st?? Many of the deficits happened when students were in other districts or absent from school but passed on to the next grade. Many of the teachers are new hires. They are being held accountable for the lack of learning that happened before they were even thought of in the district.

Anonymous said...

I heard that principals and assistants are being force to make public pledges of support for ADR durkin. Most want no part of it but are scared to say no.

Anonymous said...

They are terrified of her

Anonymous said...

She 5 feet of nothing and a miserable , mean, unsatisfied person. God, I wouldn't want to be her or her family!

Anonymous said...

What does "ADR" in the ADR durkin comment above stand for?

Anonymous said...

The little tyrant is in for a rude awakening! Wait and see. Remember, God doesn't sleep. Personally, I don't know how this woman sleeps at night, but her day will come and it won't be pretty!

Anonymous said...

With the high school going to a seven period day next year will it be necessary to hire additional teachers over those needing to be replaced? Are those replacements required to submit the portfolio package that we did in February? We were to have implemented the 7 period day in Sept 2013. There weren't enough teachers to cover all the periods. One would think there needs to be additional staff in each subject area. We've been promised classes of 25. Where will the rest of the kids go? Lower school will have support and enrichment classes in Math and English. Who will teach them? Course schedules were to have gone out May 19. It didn't happen. Does that reflect a goal unachieved on the part of our new administrative team? There are kids signing up for 4 and 5 AP classes a day! How will they be able to do ALL the required work? Guidance is oking this! Sad, sad, sad.

Anonymous said...

I sure hope the AP classes aren't going to be dumbed down so that they are more managable for the students that are not up to the task. Another way of manipulating statistics....give more students the "AP" label to create the illusion of improved achievement, while the students who belong in AP classes are cheated with a watered-down curriculum.

Anonymous said...

I bet that's exactly the plan. A colleague of mine nailed it by calling it smoke and mirrors. Seems to be a lot of that going around. Truly intelligent people that understand what is needed can see through all the bull!