Tag Archives: education

Today! BOOK SALE at Worcester Public Library, Salem Square! … and MORE HOURS for the Great Brook Valley branch!

Today! Saturday, November 15

Book Sale!

Worcester Public Library

Salem Square

10 a.m. – 4 p.m. – in the Saxe Room

Be there!!


Today might be a good day to check out our city’s main library! (after you go to the book sale)  There are the relatively new library spaces to visit: a bigger, better library book shop filled with lots of other cool stuff besides books – stuff  that you can buy for a song. Your $$ goes to supporting library events for the whole family!

Then there’s the library cafe – yummy muffins and such on sale there. You can enjoy your snack at the little cafe tables outside the library store. Bring your lap tops and enjoy free wi fi at your cafe  tables!

Outside you’ll probably see our city’s two library book mobiles parked in the library lot to the side of the building: LIBBY ( big, converted school bus) AND LILLY (little, converted bus). It would be nice if the WPL opened them up for the public to see. Check out the inside of one of these vehicles and be impressed, like we were several months ago!

WHILE WE THINK ALL THIS IS GREAT, it’s a SHAME that the Worcester Public Library is under-serving some Worcester residents, especially kids.

Our library system’s GREAT BROOK VALLEY BRANCH is open only THREE HOURS A DAY!  Just THREE hours a day!

We are told the Great Brook Valley branch, in one of our city’ s poorest (some would say one of our most challenging) public housing complexes, is JAM PACKED WITH KIDS! All the time!

GBV KIDS and families WHO LOVE going to their branch library. To do homework, to check out books, music, movies … to have a safe place to have fun and learn.

Why isn’t the Great Brook Valley WPL branch open more hours? THREE HOURS A DAY just doesn’t cut it for kids and families starving for resources.

There’s such a need at GBV! The public library is such a positive place!

Here’s hoping the Worcester City Council opens the POPULAR GBV library branch for at least FIVE HOURS a day!

– Rosalie Tirella

The City of Worcester and Ebola awareness

The City of Worcester, in collaboration with the Liberian Association of Worcester County and UMass Memorial Global Health Department, is hosting a fundraiser and Evening of Awareness to support medical and humanitarian aid focusing on the global Ebola response efforts.

The date for this event is November 14 from 6 pm-10 pm at Union Station

Our purpose is to provide more awareness and education to Worcester County on the prevailing epidemic of the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) in Liberia and other west African countries.

We are also aiming to provide background health knowledge from public health professionals on EVD.

The program will also be geared toward providing education on the historical ties between Liberia and the USA.

Partners organizing the event are looking for Worcester-based nonprofit organizations and universities that are active with any social justice or service learning programs in the Ebola affected countries to table at the event in order to raise awareness around the current impact and connections organizations in Worcester have to the outbreak in West Africa.

These tabling organizations will have the opportunity to raise funds for their relevant programming at this event.

The program schedule will be structured as follows:

1.   Pre-event march or gathering before city hall (weather permitting)

2.   Presentation of historical ties between Liberia and the USA

3.   Presentation and testimonials by families affected by EVD

4.   Presentations by medical professionals and organizations working in Liberia to help combat EVD

5.   Cultural display of Liberia

6.   Video Presentation from Liberia/Liberian professionals working in Worcester County

7.   (Tabling throughout the night)

Thank you!!

Go to college! Get a job! Eat well, Worcester!


Gateway to College Open House
Wednesday, October 22

11 AM – 2 PM

005 Surprenant Building
Please visit us during our Open House anytime between 11 AM and 2 PM to learn more about the Gateway to College program at Quinsigamond Community College. 

Staff and current Gateway to College students will be on hand to provide information, share their experiences as well as answer questions about the program.

Parking is available in the QCC upper parking lots.  

If you have any questions, please email Marci Skillings, Program Manager at mskillings@qcc.mass.edu
Light refreshments will be served. 

From SMOC – 237 Chandler Street

Job training and placement programs!

We are currently recruiting for our FREE classes beginning in the next couple of weeks. 

Session 1 of our Retail Sales Training program started October 6.  Weatherization Installers program begins October 20.
We still have slots available for both programs!

If you know of anyone who may need immediate access to job training and employment,  call (508)756-6330 x6229 or Suzanne Domestico
Skills Training
South Middlesex Opportunity Council, Inc.
237 Chandler St.
Organizing Resources for Social Change & Economic Independence.

The Massachusetts Food Plan! 

Help us put one together!

What is the MA Food Plan? 

It is both an assessment of and a plan to improve our food system – covering issues such as farming, ending hunger, getting more access to healthy/fresh foods in our communities, composting, improving our soils, processing and distributing food grown in Massachusetts, labor issues regarding the food industry, etc.  
Do you eat food? Grow food? Sell food? Cook food?

Then we need your voice!  

What is working well for Worcester and Central Massachusetts?

What are our issues?

What do we need for support to make change?

Please RSVP so we can be prepared with enough materials and refreshments! RSVP to Liz Sheehan Castro at hungerfreeworcester@gmail.com. 

Also, if you have specific translation requests please contact me ASAP. 
Liz Sheehan Castro
Worcester Food & Active Living Policy Council

office: 508-757-5631 ex 304

The fantastic Worcester Technical High School

By Edith Morgan

What do Mechanics Hall, Union Station, Green Hill Park, and Worcester’s Vocational Technical High School have in common? All involved over ten years of unrelenting effort on the part of citizens to save them from ruin. Mechanics Hall is now one of the foremost performance venues in America, saved from years of neglect and misuse ; Union Station, a falling down ruin in the 1970’s, is now a functioning and shining hub; and Green Hill Park, after decades of being dumped on and neglected, is now the city’s crown jewel, as the Green family envisaged when they made it over to Worcester in 1905. And so it was with our newest High School, Worcester Technical.

When I moved to Worcester in 1967,” vocational education“ was the province of the city council, who administered the vocational school down by the armory. It seemed to be a dumping ground for (mainly boys, as Fanning trade catered to girls, I believe) . While many dedicated shop teachers in fact tried to teach a trade to their students, the school under the tutelage of the city council was believed by many with whom I talked to be a haven of patronage.

Then , vocational education was taken over by the School Department. And like the other projects I mentioned, Worcester went from the bottom of the pile to the top – not just here in the city, but statewide and even nationally. I have come to the realization that this is how we accomplish big things here in Worcester . And so, after well over ten years of planning, hearings, gathering support, revisions, and getting funding, Worcester opened its top-of-the line Technical High School.

Visitors from everywhere come here to learn, admire, and praise the school, its facilities, its leadership, its accomplishments Just recently, Arne Duncan, the president’s Education Secretary, visited, along with other notables, to see for themselves what has been accomplished. And the school’s principal Sheila Harrity, has been recognized as the 2014 National Principal of the Year by MetLife/NASSP.

“The School That Works” opened in 2006, at 1 Skyline Drive, with a 400,000 square foot campus, situated on the site of the former city-owned Belmont Home, and 5 acres of what was part of Green Hill Park (for which the city gave the park 6 acres of land facing Belmont Street – a win-win all around). Originally to cost $72 million, delays and changes in the plan (due to the presence of vernal pools in the area, that required moving the footprint to preserve these pools) the building was completed at a cost of $90 million. Another win-win deal enabled Worcester to properly cap the old quarry which had long been used to dump construction materials and who knows what else, and create athletic fields for the school, while remaining part of the Park, and enabling city children to play soccer and other sports when not in use by the school – with funding provided by the state.

I urge all Worcesterites to become acquainted with this jewel in their midst: this school, which this year serves1,400 students, with opportunities to study and practice in 23 technical programs, if very welcoming to the public, and offers services as part of the education of their students: During the school year, you can get an excellent lunch, between 10:30 and noon at the beautiful “Skyline Bistro”, where I have enjoyed meals with friends, enjoying the wonderful view, and the professional service by students learning about restaurant management and food preparation with all the latest equipment – under the watchful eye of their teachers. If you just want coffee and a pastry, those are also available. If you need a little pampering, there is a beauty shop. Should your car also need some work, the school has an-up-to-date automotive and collision shop – and students who are studying graphics and printing will design things for the school s well as for outside (city) persons and organizations. And there is a real bank, with an ATM , and a place to spend your money aq the school’s gift shop , or at the school store, if you need sweatshirts or school supplies. It is almost like a city within a city, with all the amenities that students will need when they get out into the real world.

And lest you think that with all these career and vocational opportunities, that academics might be neglected, here are the amazing facts: In the five years of its operation, 77% of Worcester Tech students scored at the advanced/proficient level, while in Math. 74% did so . and 96% of this year’s 10th and 11th graders passed in Science. And they graduate in huge numbers: presently, the school has 95.4 graduation rate – with only a 1.1% drop-out rate.
And just so you think it is not all work and training, the schoo also offers many sports, including cross country, football, basketball, baseball, track, volleyball and others. The school mascot is the eagle.

The student body demographics is amazing also: of its1400 students, 51 are female, 49% male; 65% qualify for free or reduced lunches, and 21% are special needs students. Walk down the halls, and you will see that the student body reflects the ethnic backgrounds of the city’s residents.

All these things have not escaped the notice of national groups and organizations: in 2006 School Planning and Management Magazine rated Worcester Tech “The #1 Public Education Facility in the Nation”. In 2011, the school was selectees one of just five high schools in the nation as MetLife/NASSP Breakthrough School – and it was the only New England School selected, and the only vocational technical school in the country

As a retired educator, I have to greatly admire what is accomplished at this school: a tremendously well-equipped facility, excellent leadership, fantastic faculty, beautiful location, with a student body that achieves great things daily – in other words, what every school should be able to offer every child. And it pays off: In 2012, Worcester Tech graduates left the school with all academic requirements met, and with industry-recognized certificates. 77% went on to higher education, 18% went directly into the world of work, and 3% joined the military.

But the school is not resting on its well-deserved laurels: the drive to constant improvement is always on and in evidence everywhere. In a rapidly and constantly changing world, constant re-examination of curriculum, facilities, and student needs, are a must. And while that can at times be costly, not doing is far more expensive: Even the most expensive school does not cost per pupil what one year of incarceration costs: upward of $ 40,000 a year, not to mention the awful waste of lives.

On a personal note, I am very happy that this great facility is within our neighborhood, gracing the entrance to our greatest park, and providing so many opportunities to so many of our children. I realize that there is a waiting list, and while the school opened with 1,100 students and now has 1,400, we c not accommodate everyone who wants, or needs the opportunities it offers. But I am hopeful that sometime in the future, there will be place for all those of our young who want and deserve a top-notch education with a vocational technical twist.

Worcester offers many great choices at its 5 high schools, and there is a place for all. Thanks to the many who have worked diligently to create and support an excellent public school system, in these difficult times.

NEW: Why go to school?

By Edith Morgan

Criticizing our public schools is one of our favorite indoor pastimes – everyone is an expert, having attended school for twelve years or more – and able to share tales of experiences during those years.

But just being a consumer of public education does not make anyone an expert, any more than having had brain surgery makes one a brain surgeon. But in a democracy, more than anywhere else, an educated public is vital to the survival of all the values we purport to hold dear.

To hold our nation together, we have to share certain beliefs, certain skills, certain behaviors, certain values. When I attended schools here in America, I thought I understood pretty clearly what the goals were: I learned to master the English language, to understand my neighbors, my city, my state, my nation – and the history of all these, so I could understand why we were as we were, how we got that way (history), and what would be expected of me as I took my place wherever I settled down.

I went into teaching, a natural choice, coming from a culture that held teachers in high esteem (even if the pay was mostly pretty shoddy) and trusted teachers to impart the skills and knowledge we all needed to take our place in American society. True, we all expected to earn a living, but that was not the main goal of education: the schools were expected to turn out decent citizens, informed and able to make decisions, participate in governing ourselves, think and act rationally, and as we grew older, be able to continue learning to survive in a changing world, and be responsible members of family, neighborhood, town, state, and nation (and now, the world).

I have been very disturbed to see increasingly that our schools are becoming career-training factories, in a time when no one knows what careers will be available in a few years, nor what skills they will require. We judge schools by paper-and-pencil tests, designed to be easily machine corrected, treating children like widgets, subjected to incessant drilling to acquire a score which is in the end meaningless. There is no real-life situation where we are given multiple choices, with severe time constraints, and prevented from using any of the references and resources we have been taught to use.

Further, in the name of budget, we have cut those areas that make for a full human being – art, music, physical education, health, etc..- and cut down on, or cut out entirely, librarians, nurses and classroom aides. It has apparently not occurred to some of the so-called reformers that while most of today’s youth will probably change careers at least four times, they will live to be 80, 90, or more, even if they only work 40 years. What quality of life will they have if all they know is how to go to some job, and spend the rest of their lives watching TV, texting, playing games, etc..?

Once upon a time someone asked what was the ideal school system, and I do not remember who said it, but the answer was “Mark Hopkins on one end of a log and the student on the other”. Great education does not depend on fancy buildings,, new gadgets, and test scores. It depends on exposure to the best teachers/human beings, in meaningful interaction with students.

Education – or brainwashing?

By Edith Morgan

In 1951, armed with a B.A. from a great liberal arts college, and recently married, I set out to find work so that my husband could finish his degree . After a summer stint as a complaint adjuster at Montgomery Ward (since a degree in liberal arts, while wonderfully broadening, did not really prepare me for a career), I eventually went into public school teaching. In those days, there was a shortage, and we “retreads” could begin teaching and acquire the needed education courses to become certified. Coming from a background and a culture where teachers are revered and held in high esteem, it was not difficult for me to feel I had fallen into the right choice.

So, I began teaching, at the princely sum of $3,000 a year. AS a female, I was not considered “head of household”, even though I was supporting my husband who was still in graduate school) but at least we had progressed to the point where married women could teach.

Having attended 8 years of public school in France, I expected that there would be an agreed-to curriculum, which I would then apply to the children before me, and do what I felt was needed to be sure that each learned what was required. When I closed the door to my room, I was in charge, and responsible. The first two or three years I was up until two and three in the morning, going over the day’s activities, creating materials, correcting papers, doing lessons plans, and mulling over notes about various children who were not achieving as expected. After a while I was able to cut down on the midnight oil, and attended Saturday classes, as well as summer college education courses, where 45 quarter hours finally got me fully certified in Ohio and Michigan, with a certificate that was interchangeable with Massachusetts, where I eventually ended up.

I tell you this history, to contrast what schooling has become – a bureaucratized career mill, based on the factory model . designed to turn out pliant drones for industry, who can bubble in ovals n a never-ending succession of spurious exams designed to label the less fortunate among us as failures.
The process has been gradually sneaked into our schools, always with the misuse of glowing promises (“choice”, “vouchers”, “saving money”, industry can do it better”, charter schools as models, etc..) Teachers are disempowered, spurious test data is used, feeding the uninformed public the notion that a number actually means something when applied to ever changing groups of children.

And so, since money is everything to too many people, the education of our children, alleged to be our most precious resource, is becoming more and more brainwashing, less and less nurturing young minds to think, and reason in a democratic society

A beginning teacher makes less than a mailman – but needs a B.A., or even an M.A. . After 9 years, the teacher will not earn even half what a doctor or lawyer makes, even with a doctorate. But of course, none of us go into teaching for the money – but that does not mean that teachers should not be able to afford a house, some benefits, and respect. We have acquired those things only after decades of organizing, negotiating, and pleading. If we want the best, we will have to pay for the best…

Downward mobility haunts US education (and more)

To add to my last posts. From the BBC. – R. T.:

3 December 2012 Last updated at 14:03 ET

Downward mobility haunts US education

By Sean Coughlan, BBC News education correspondent  

An integral part of the American Dream is under threat – as “downward mobility” seems to be threatening the education system in the United States.

The idea of going to college – and the expectation that the next generation will be better educated and more prosperous than its predecessor – has been hardwired into the ambitions of the middle classes in the United States.

But there are deep-seated worries about whether this upward mobility is going into reverse.

Andreas Schleicher, special adviser on education at the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), says the US is now the only major economy in the world where the younger generation is not going to be better educated than the older.

“It’s something of great significance because much of today’s economic power of the United States rests on a very high degree of adult skills – and that is now at risk,” says Mr Schleicher.

“These skills are the engine of the US economy and the engine is stuttering,” says Mr Schleicher, one of the world’s most influential experts on international education comparisons.

Lack of opportunity

The annual OECD education statistics show that only about one in five young adults in the US reaches a higher level of education than their parents – among the lowest rates of upward mobility in the developed world.

Ohio steelworks A steelworker in Ohio in 1950 drives away his new Dodge, paid for with a $320 monthly wage. The steelworks have shut and the town is now in the “rust belt”

For a country whose self-image is based on optimism and opportunity, the US is now a country where someone with poorly-educated parents is less likely to reach university than in almost any other industrial country.

It’s the opposite of a Hollywood ending.

And about one in five young adults in the US are now defined in educational terms as “downwardly mobile” – such as children who have graduate parents but who don’t reach university level themselves. …

To read more, click on link below:



From the New York Times. R. T.:

Hunger in Plain Sight

Published: November 27, 2012

There are hungry people out there, actually; they’re just largely invisible to the rest of us, or they look so much like us that it’s hard to tell. The Supplemental Assistance Nutrition Program, better known as SNAP and even better known as food stamps, currently has around 46 million participants, a record high. That’s one in eight Americans — 10 people in your subway car, one or two on every line at Walmart.

We wouldn’t wish that on anyone, but as it stands, the number should be higher[1]: many people are unaware that they’re eligible for SNAP, and thus the participation rate is probably around three-quarters of what it should be.

Food stamps allow you to shop more or less normally, but on an extremely tight budget, around $130 a month. It’s tough to feed a family on food stamps (and even tougher without them), and that’s where food banks – a network of nonprofit, nongovernment agencies, centrally located clearing houses for donated or purchased food that is sent to local affiliated agencies or “pantries” – come in. Food banks may cover an entire state or part of one: the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma, for example, serves 53 counties and provides enough food to feed 48,000 square miles and feeds 90,000 people a week – in a state with fewer than four million people.

Like many other food banks, Oklahoma’s, says executive director Rodney Bivens, has made a commitment to serve every single person in need in its area; put that together with that state’s geography, and it might give you pause. Similarly, God’s Love We Deliver (not technically a food bank), which provides over a million cooked meals a year to sick people in the five boroughs and the Newark area, has seen its numbers nearly double in the last six years because, as Karen Pearl, the president and C.E.O. told me, “We are never going to have a waiting list and are never going to turn people away.”

And because poverty is growing.

Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society programs brought the poverty level down to 11 percent from 20 percent in less than 10 years. Ronald Reagan began the process of dismantling that minimal safety net, and as a result the current poverty level is close to 16 percent, and food stamps are not fully doing their job. “There was a time in this country,” says Maryland Food Bank president and C.E.O. Deborah Flateman, “when food stamps had practically eliminated hunger; then the big cuts happened, and we’ve been trying to recover ever since.” …

To read more, please click on link below: – R. T.



AND YET WE SPEND $$$$ ON WAR – $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$. CLICK ON LINK BELOW: R.T.


My Worcester song

By Roger Salloom

In hindsight, the words that best describe the early years of my family life around 1974 and the first year of teaching in Worcester, would be “pristine” and “innocent.”

Right after getting married I had a long term substitute teaching job at Burncoat Senior High School for six months before I persuaded my trusting wife to move to Nashville so that I could satisfy my singing aspirations. It was grand of her to do that. One more time I was on the road. Anyway, I went to Music City naively because of my love for Dylan’s Nashville Skyline album and the country people’s way of living in general. A few years earlier I had recorded for Chess Records with Dylan’s guys many of whom formed into the Grammy nominated ensemble Area Code 615. Some of them were, erudite and some were just good ol country boys, as advertised. The engineer was a cool fellow who also played bass on Elvis’ Hunk of Burning Love, Wayne Moss. But now Wayne was running Cinderella Recording Studio. I think the logo was a pumpkin.

After three years of relentless asthma we dropped Nashville and returned to Worcester. We had made some temporary friends while there, Guy Clark, Rodney Crowell, Skinny Dennis Richard Dobbins, with whom we hung out constantly. On my way back from Nashville to Worcester we had a smooth trip, except once I hit the Worcester streets, I hit a pot-hole and blew off one of the chains that fastened my camper to the bed of our pick-up truck. That chain break inspired the first line to a new song titled Out of Worcester.

We had a one-year-old baby around 1974. New babies are pristine. I also had a brand new job. That is pristine. I was truly an idealist and that is what schools need today, true idealists.

Then the ultimate in pristine happened, opening day at school. I remember taking my little boy and my dear wife up to Providence St. Jr. HS around that time. I recall that some of the other teachers gathered around oogling and googling our little boy. One teacher made a comment that I never forgot. It was something to the effect of “Look how thoughtful the baby is when he looks at us.” I took those compliments as insightful and that he would be intelligent. I thought it all as a good omen for our little fellow. I was proud.

I loved the students at Providence St. Jr. High School. I am not exaggerating here. I loved them and loved teaching them. The children were beautiful and I was the idealist. (Did you know that our founding father, President John Adams, also taught in Worcester? Coincidentally, my present second and last wife is a descendant of President John Adams. Amazing.)
Rosalie Tirella, the editor of this paper, was a child in one of my favorite classes. She was bright as anyone of those little gems could be.

I will never forget one time brought tears to my eyes.

I was always trying to devise exciting reasons to coax my students to write. I said, “Ok, let’s write a letter to our parents.” They all bent over and started writing. I was thrilled! Wonderful!

As I strolled quietly around the room, I stopped by Henry T.’s desk.

I wanted them to learn how to address a letter, so I told them how to write the street number and all that. Henry raised his little hand and said he did not know where his father lived. I immediately started to choke up. “Henry, do you not know where your father lives?” Henry answered, “No.” Here is my innocent part. I asked Henry, “Well, where do you think he lives?” Henry had no idea.

“When was the last time you saw him?” Henry said, “I cannot remember.” I said, “So, you have not seen him in a long time, and you do not know where he lives?”

Henry said, “No.” I told Henry, “That it is ok. Just write him your letter, and we will figure out where to mail it at another later time.”

Kids will hold onto the thinnest thread, the smallest bit of hope, a wisp of a dream to be near their parent. Where was that boy’s father? What was that father thinking? How did this happen? I know the courts routinely made the fathers in divorce court feel that they were not so worthy to keep contact with their children. Huge mistake. Hard to say what Henry senior’s condition was. I do know that Henry junior was beautiful. He used to write poetry. He was a dreamer and he wanted his father. How does this kind of little tragedy happen?

It takes nearly a life-time of loss for a kid to give up on seeing a parent. It takes a life-time of neglect or abuse. Kids do not give up easily. I learned then that kids need a steady parent, not one who flickers on and off. Kids need an adult parent, not someone who coincidentally possesses reproductive organs.

There should be an extra organ in all of us once a child is born, The Compassionate Organ. It never dies until the last breath. Never give up, Moms and Dads. There is no one on earth who can fill that hole in the child’s soul. No one.

Henry and Rosalie, as children, were the innocent part.

Roger Salloom is a singer/songwriter who lives in Northampton. He grew up in Worcester and taught in our public schools.

Worcester’s Level 4 Schools, Union Hill and Chandler Elementary: Moving forward!

By John Monfredo, Worcester School Committee

“Turning around persistently low-achieving schools requires a new way of doing the work that is transformative for the students and teachers in the school… the nature of the work demands a new vision for redesigning the schools and how districts support schools in that process. Bold action is required.”
– Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education

Back in March of 2010 the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education announced its list of 35 Level 4 schools. A school is deemed “Level 4” if its achievement is in the lowest 4 percent of schools statewide. Two schools in Worcester were on the list: Chandler Elementary and Union Hill School.

The new law, signed by Governor Deval Patrick last January, is designed to close the persistent achievement gap between the schools in poorer communities and those in richer communities. However, as mentioned in previous articles, the idea of closing the achievement gap is a difficult choice, for the administration had a variety of punitive options to choose and the least restrictive was the removal of the principal. Thus, that was what Dr. Boone, Superintendent of Schools in Worcester, chose. The decision was supported by the Worcester School Committee.

At that time Dr. Boone stated, “These schools have worked extremely hard to provide a high-quality of educational opportunities for all the students enrolled there. While significant progress has been made, we acknowledge that the rate of progress has not met the state and federal benchmarks Continue reading Worcester’s Level 4 Schools, Union Hill and Chandler Elementary: Moving forward!