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.