By Rosalie Tirella
How wrong Worc. Schoolcommitteewomen Tracy Novick and Dianna Biancheria they are about the Goddard School and how little they know about inner-city schools/urban school districts/educating the poor.
Novick and Biancheria have no idea how wonderful Worcester’s Public School system is! Safe, clean, well run schools where learning goes on every day! Teachers and principals who love their kids and kids who look at their schools as one of the best things about their neighborhoods.
Look at Springfield, Lowell, Lawrence, Hartford – even Boston. All of these urban public school systems can be compared to Worcester’s. All have lower standardized test scores, lower high school graduation rates and more – let’s be honest here – violence. We cannot and should not forget how violent some inner-city public schools can be. Poverty, ignorance, hunger, resentment can all add up to a huge tinder box – not a place to learn and grow. The Hartford Public Schools have security guards stationed in their high schools! Security guards! The kids there call them “Toy Cops.” Students in Hartford Public Schools – one of the poorest in the country – have urinated in hallways, overturned teachers’ desks when they were out of the classroom, broken into teachers’ cars.
Compared to so many urban systems in America, the Worc. Public Schools are heaven – pure heaven.
Novick and Biancheria need to know this – and remember this.
They also need to know they are outnumbered. Worcester teachers and educators (except the grandstanding Gary Rosen) and inner-city youth workers are 100% behind the kids and teachers at Goddard – and the W. School Committee’s 4 to 3 vote to move on and NOT seek the state records re: Goddard MCAS test results (the state’s invalidating the schools scores). A few of these adults – adults who have worked with inner-city families and kids for years – have told me what a great school Goddard is. They have spoken to me over the phone and I have heard their passion and deep feelings for kids who are oftentimes behind society’s 8 ball. Gary Rosen has mocked the true feelings people like Mayor Joe O’Brien and John Monfredo and Jack Foley – all adults who have special and deep knowledge of inner-city kids/life – have for the Goddard School and students.
It was amazing to see Novick get on with her misguided crusade to seek all state records after 100 Goddard parents and teachers, etc filled City Hall chambers to speak lovingly of their school and to say: LET IT GO, BITCH.
But Novick, in her little cheery, voice, in her little trim suit was brutal. It was as if she had not heard the testimony of the Latino parents. It was as if she was deaf to what the community was telling her. She was putting her ego before the Goddoard School parents and students.
Let me say this. While not all teachers love the MCAS, they do undertand that the tests are a way for the state to stay COMMITTED to educating our most disadvantaged students. The State of Mass is saying, through the MCAS tests: We value poor kids. We value inner-city kids who have had none of the lucky circumstances middle-class kids have had. We expect our teachers to teach them – not just promote them to the next grade level. We expect these students to master the basics – reading, writing, math – so they can go onto college and get a a good job. Or if not college, our neediest students will still have the skills to be able to be trained for some work – to succeed in life. Flourish in their communities. Not end up living in poverty like their parents – and most likely their grandparents.
The MCAS are really about moving families out of poverty. They are about respecting kids -wanting them to leave our public schools with a set of skills that will be a foundation for a successful life.
As a Lamartine Street School student years ago – Worcester’s first (labelled) inner-city school – we took tons of standardized tests. So the state could see how we kids were doing. Those test taking days were stressful – and not all the kids did well. But our teachers – Mr. Monfredo, especially – could take those scores and see what we students needed to learn. And after the two or so days of rigid test taking, there was always a party in the boiler room or auditorium. We got to see a great Disney movie and have little Hoodsie ice cream cups! Life went on! We kids felt OK about our school, our teachers and our principal.
Novick has lived a sheltered life. She thinks the MCAS test is the enemy! She thinks the Goddard School staff must be hung out to dry! In front of the entire Worcester community!
How wrong she is …