By Gordon Davis
The Old Worcester Network will hire Dr. Maureen Binienda for Superintendent of the Worcester Public Schools, instead of interim WPS Superintendent Dr. Marco Rodrigues. All of the signs and elements are in place.
Some of the people backing Dr. Marco Rodriques have been voted out of office – which is the sign that the fix is in.
This does not come as a surprise: the Old Worcester Network never really accepted the outsider, former WPS Superintendent Dr. Melinda Boone. She was undermined most of her superintendency here in Worcester. She and Dr. Rodriques never got the credit they deserved for the improvements in the Worcester Public Schools. Some of the criticism of her and the students of the Worcester schools was race-based, as the Worcester School District has become a so called Majority-Minority school district.
Dr. Rodriques will fail to get a contract for the Superintendency of the Worcester School District partially because of race but more for the reason that the Old Worcester Network feels comfortable with a person whom they understand and who understands the exclusionary qualities of Worcester politics.
When the politicians deal with Maureen Binienda they will know what she will do before hand. When the politicians deal with Dr. Rodriques there will be an anxiety, as Dr. Rodriques has experience outside of Worcester that some in Worcester have yet to grasp.
Given the racial transformation of the Worcester Schools, the Old Worcester Network has nostalgia for the nearly all-White Worcester school system of the 1950s and 1960s – a time when many in the Old Worcester Network went to school. Maureen Binienda will be a return to those times of yesteryear, pleasant for some White people and not so pleasant for some Black people.
I have worked in Discrimination Law for a decade.
I have seen how old boys’ networks discriminate in hiring while skirting the law. It is likely that something similar will happen in the awarding of the contract to the new Worcester Public Schools Superintendent.
The first thing that I have seen in discrimination in hiring of the next WPS Superintendent is to reduce the pool of qualified applicants. In a truly open search there would be several applicants as or more qualified than the Old Worcester Network candidate. The Worcester School Committee has already reduced the candidate pool by declaring an “internal” search.
Another example of discriminatory hiring practices in Worcester: I remember recently a City of Worcester job was posted as “part-time.” When the person the former City Manager wanted was chosen for the job, the position quietly became “full-time.”
Another thing that will be done to mask the hiring of the Old Worcester Network’s chosen WPS Superintendent candidate is to tailor the requirements of the job to fit the resume of the group’s anointed candidate. Already there is talk of how well Dr. Binienda “motivates” students, which is not a real requirement of School Superintendency. The Old Worcester network is not talking about how Mr. Rodriques has worked in Worcester as an Assistant Superintendent and now as the Interim Superintendent. How he has experience DOING THE JOB. A more objective requirement is hands-on experience.
What will also be a part of the decision are the connections to the Worcester community. Dr. Binienda, being a Worcester native, being Catholic and Irish-American, (not so coincidently?) just being named the Grand Master of Worcester’s hugely politically important St. Patrick Day Parade will all be felt as positives. This has nothing to do with the Worcester School Superintendency.
Many of the students in the Worcester Public Schools are native to Worcester and they or their parents speak Spanish. This seems to be a more objective consideration for the superintendency and strengths of Dr. Rodriques.
Please do not get the wrong idea. Dr. Binienda is a very good candidate and well qualified. However, Dr. Rodriques is better qualified when using objective standards.
Hopefully, the people making this important decision can overcome their biases and make their choice objectively.