By Rosalie Tirella
… Worcester’s well liked, easy going mayor, Joe Petty! Pictured here, Mayor Petty and his son, give us nice smiles in the summer sun. Petty, like the weather these days, is sunny. He has a friendly, sweet disposition, which is why he seems to be just what Woo ordered during these days of our downtown rebuilding, economic engine rev-revving and all the big egos vying for a piece of the action. Big egos with their big ideas, and Joe “The Quiet Man” Petty keeps everyone in check, keeps everyone at the table. Good family man, too.
But there are downsides to being so nice and easy … . Sometimes you have to go to the mat for something you believe in, fight for something near and dear to your heart and not be worried about hurt feelings or mixing it up with some tough customers. That’s just not our Joe. For instance, he floated the idea of a Worcester EXAM SCHOOL a la Boston Latin several months ago. EXCELLENT IDEA! So many Worcester parents – from all socio-economic backgrounds – would have loved something this special for their kids. It would have made everybody try so much harder – to get into the exam school, to plan on getting in or even to say: I almost got into our exam school, but I didn’t. That’s OK. I am in all honors classes at my school these days. And I like me teachers … etc etc
A rising educational tide WOULD HAVE LIFTED all Worcester Public School students and their families. Made all our students better learners and strivers!
Believe it or not, there are brilliant immigrant kids and first generation kids in Worcester. Most families in urban/immigrant (poorer) neighborhoods know who’s brilliant, super bright in their families, churches, etc and they are not afraid to have them compete with West Side kids or upper income families. My mom thought I was smart. She expected me to get all A’s in school and to take honor classes in junior high and high school and AP classes in high school, which I did. She expected me to be just as smart as my gal pals in the Burncoat area ( I attended Burncoat High). She did not say: I only work at a dry cleaners, Rosalie’s friends’ parents are school principals and engineers and live in big houses across town. We just can’t keep up! We need to roll over, give up. NOPE. The thought never entered my mom’s mind. EVER. For one nano second. My relatives were the same way. … First- and second-generation Americans are super competitive. They are strivers who are proud to be American and proud of their kids and public school teachers and great public schools.
But, of course, the Worcester School Committee didn’t think of WPS students and families when Petty presented his dream. No, they thought of the politics and came up with crap.
Joe Petty, as head of the Worcester School Committee, should have stood up to them and pushed, pushed, pushed his vision. Defended his idea. SOLD his idea to his colleagues.
He’s still a nice guy. Still doing great things for Wusta.
But he needs bigger … shamrocks.