By Rosalie Tirella
Sick of Worcester School Committee member Tracy O’Connel Novick voting against the City of Worcester’s inner-city schools at every turn, every time she opens her mouth? For instance: Novick’s NO to millions of federal dollars because she didn’t like the fact that the Worcester inner-city schools in question may have to meet some federally mandated criteria.
Fortunately, the other school committee members disagreed and knew that Worcester’s poor families needed the federal money to make their schools stronger (libraries, longer school days, after school programs, etc). And who can forget Novick’s voting against school uniforms for a few of our inner-city schools because not every inner-city family had a washer and dryer? That’s what she said! Implying that poor folks can’t keep clean because they don’t have the right equipment.
When I was growing up in Green Island we were too poor to have a dryer, yet we were able to attend school wearing clean clothes. My sisters wore uniforms to their catholic school; my mom had me in simple slacks, shirts and dresses for Lamartine Street School and Providence Street Junior High. She would have been insulted if she had had to listen to Novick’s condescending PUBLIC statement! What would happen, asked Tracy, studpidly, if the uniforms needed to be laundered in the middle of the week?
Totally out to lunch. Totally out of sync with Worcester’s inner-city neighborhoods and the working class/poor/immigrant families that attend places like Chandler Street School or Goddard. Oh! And let’s not forget how Novick made Goddard parents, kids and teachers feel like crap when she and Dianna Bianchiria (another Worcester Public School Committee Fruit Loop) demanded names and classrooms be made public, when the state dept of ed. voided the students’ MCAS scores because of teacher “coaching” during the test.
I remember watching that WPS committee hearing on TV and marveling at all the Goddard parents, students and teachers who went to the podium to sing the praises of the school’s staff and principal. It was so clear that the teachers loved the kids and the kids and their parents/guradians loved the staff. School comittee members were moved – committee member Mary Mullaney almost cried and said that listening to these inner-city families talk of Goddard’s teachers and principal was a “beautiful” experience.
The American Dream made visible.
Tracy Novick O’Connel was unmoved – too stupid to see what anyone who has any sensitivity could see: Goddard is a great school – back the hell off. Nope. Not O’Connel Novick. She went right on calling for names and classrooms, etc be released so the entire city would know who flubbed up and where. Can you imagine how some of those students and teachers might have felt if they had been outed by Novick? Novick used the Goddard School to vent her antipathy toward the MCAS and state/fed testing in general. (Most inner-city families want the public schools to take the education of their kids seriously; MCAS tests help do that!)
I bet the idea for district reps on the Worcester School Committee was born right then and there – AND after the fact that we – InCity Times writers – have been calling folks’ attention to the fact that Tracy O’Connel Novick, Dianna Biancheria and some old WP school committee hands don’t know squat about raising a kid in Main South or lower Vernon Hill or Grafton Hill or Piedmont and what that means for the teachers who teach them.
Novick is wrong when she pits herself against federal mandates and whines about school committee autonomy. What she and Dianna B. need to get right/acknowledge: the NEEDS – educational, psychological, economic – of inner-city students and their families. Our school system is a majority minority school system, which means we have more kids of color that whte kids attending our public schools. And yet all the people on our school committee come from the West Side and other middle class Worcester neighborhoods.
Mayor Joe O’Brien and the seven Worcester City Councilors who voted with him to put the school district rep queston on the November ballot have done a wonderful thing for Worcester’s inner-city/even east side/south side families: they want them to have a VOICE. A real voice in how their neighborhood schools are run, what programs they get, what programs their kids need.
Most inner-city families like the idea of school uniforms. Yesterday I saw some Chandler Street Elementary School kids get dropped off by their school bus. The students wore neat, crisp khacki slacks and blue Izody shirts. They looked fantastic! They looked like serious students! And no, Tracy Novick, no one looked dirty or unkempt – you know, you can buy two or three pairs of slacks and four or so shirts and be set for the year. Add a few navy blue sweaters and you’re golden! No slutty jeans and cleavage-bearing tees for the girls; no butt-hanging jeans with devil logos for the boys. Heaven! For parents and kids!
And when Tracy Novick says no to hundreds of millions of dollars for things lilke school libraries, etc, because the dough comes with a few federal strings attached and SHE WANTS TO CALL THE SHOTS there will be a cool Main South School Committee member and most likely mom/dad to say: WRONG! We’ll take the dough! We’ll go for the afterschool program so our kids will have a safe place to continue learning, so they will be able to keep up with the kids at Flagg Street school whose parents have the bucks to live in safe big West Side houses filled with laptops, IPads, etc.
And kudos to City Councilor Ric Rushton for saying that the distance between the City of Worcester and Worcester’s inner-city parents/students will grow much shorter if inner-city folks can get themselves elected to the Worcester School Committee. By running for office in a DISTRICT instead of at large, like candidates have to do now, the city will make it much easier for inner-city folks to run for and win a seat on the Worcester School Committee. You won’t need as much money to campaign; most likely people in the neighborhood will know a candidate and most likely they will be more than willing to voice their concerns to someone they know. We many not always be a Rushton fan, but we are proud of him for this vote! He, like Mayor O’Brien and District 4 City Councilor Barbara Haller, are looking at the REAL Worcester, the Worcester of TODAY – 2011. The city has changed – demographically – and we need to take those changes seriously. The new Worcester needs a new way to govern itself so more of its residents will be heard, will be served.
We hope the Worcester School Committee voting district break down is like City Council – with reps coming from District 4, District 3, District 2 .. with maybe a downtown district or Main South district so that families in our core city neighborhoods can have a more direct hand in their kids education, so that they thrive.