Tag Archives: Tracy O’Connel Novick

WPS Committeewoman Tracy O’Connell-Novick’s latest dirty tricks

By Rosalie Tirella

Seems like the city can’t catch a break. Just when you think WPSCommitteewoman Tracy O’Connell Novick is putting an end to her malicious scapegoating of WPSchools Superintendent Dr. Melinda Boone, we see this: She and fellow Boone harasssers – Brian O’Connell and Dianna Biancheria – have put themselves on/made themselves the “Accountablity (Administration)” subcommittee of the Worcester School Committee. As chair of the WPS Committee, Mayor Joe Petty let them do this; he did not suggest another person be added to the subcommittee to counterbalance what will most surely be a group of hyper-vigilant nut jobs ready to see scandal whenever Dr. Boone does anything they disagree with.

Novick was the one who wanted to delay the school committee’s vote on renewing Dr. Boone’s contract until after election, hoping that an anti-Boone person would win and somehow help Novick and crew oust Dr. Boone.

Well, Novick never got her way and she got re-elected, but at a low #5. Voters thought she was vindictive and racist – her numbers went down.

SO: Just when she hits a nadir, Novick has the nerve to lobby for and will most likely get the VICE CHAIRMANSHIP of the Worcester school committee. Novick is seeing her numbers slipping – especially amongst minorities. One person of color I know said she would love to slap Novick around – another person says he hates her snotty attitude. So with her support in the African American/minority community hitting a new low, it is incredibly ballsy/creepy but politically astute of her to get herself the Vice Chair slot.

This Vice Chairmanship is extra FREE exposure/p.r. – especially when chairman Petty (Worcester mayor is always the Chairperson of the Worc. School committee) is away, which he may well be seeing he has a full time job in Boston. Can you imagine! All that free press for Novick! All her quotes in the T & G! Everyone in town can see her “lead” something – even if it is another witchhunt. Novick, the smarty pants, can burnish her image, which is in the crapper at this point, as Vice Chair of the WSC. And it won’t cost her a dime.

This is a cynical move by Novick who doesn’t want to lose her WPSC seat and might just run for City Council in a few years. Usually, the second highest vote getter gets the Vice Chair slot – not someone who goes behind folks’ backs to maneuver and BS and get the slot.

Mayor Petty has done nothing to stop this little creep, who beneath the veneer of super-giving West Side stay-at-home mom, is really just a competitive, nasty, conniving little worm, who will once again make Dr. Boone’s life miserable.

God help Dr. Boone. God help the minority kids of the Worcester Public Schools.

Again.

Who’s thinking about the kids?

By Parlee Jones

I am not a political person by nature, but that has been changing over the last couple of years. I have come to see that attention to Worcester’s elected officials is needed if I hope to offer the best opportunities for my children. Most would consider me to be a very active parent. You can find me at parent’s night and PTO’s.

I can sit with my children every day after school and help them with their homework, meet with the teachers to discuss teaching strategy and plans for next year, but I continue to find road blocks along the way.

I joined a community organizing group called Black Legacy almost two years ago. The group was just starting. We came together to talk about the health of the community, and the disparities that exist. We wondered why members of Worcester’s Black community were becoming sicker, more often, and more severely than our White counter parts in so many areas including diabetes, cardiovascular disease, various cancers, and infant mortality. What was going on? What we realized is that all of these health issues are related to socio-economic income, which is largely dependent on the quality of education someone has. When we looked at the data, we found that there was a major income gap in the city of Worcester by race and ethnicity, and indeed this gap is found in our public education. So, as folks committed to making as big an impact as possible, we decided to focus on closing the academic achievement gap knowing this will help close the gaps in income and finally overall health.

This past September, we held our second Black Families for Education Conference, intending to raise awareness of the school-to-prison pipeline. This pipeline is a national problem which recognizes that failures in education have a direct link to the likelihood that a person might find themselves in prison. By exploring the pipeline, some communities are making major changes that increase student success and stop that path.

• Uneven disciplinary practices
• Low expectations of students
• Under resourced schools

When we put all three of these issues together, it is easy to see why we have achievement gaps. It also becomes relatively easy to see what needs to happen to close those gaps.

• Eliminate disparities in disciplinary action that is the result of unintended bias
• Increase expectations for all students for high academic achievement
• Increase a more equitable distribution of resources in the schools and neighborhoods so that all children are able to be in strong schools, not just the ones in wealthier communities.

You can learn more about the school to prison pipeline at www.blacklegacynow.org.

What has become clear is that many on our current school committee are not committed to these goals. In fact, some school committee member’s like Ms. Tracy Novick campaigned against high expectations for all students, and not expectations for teachers. Her cry’s against MCAS seem, on it’s surface to be a concern for unequal negative impact on poor students and students of color, but in reality it is a strategy to save teachers from being subjected to the same high stakes evaluation as high school students are. Again, on it’s surface, this looks good. Most of us agree that MCAS should not be a score that can keep a student with passing grades from graduating from high school. That seems completely unfair. We do want to be able to have multiple measures of what students are learning, but it shouldn’t be used in the way it is.

But in reality, her organizing is not to eliminate MCAS as a high stakes test for students. Her organizing is to stop MCAS from being a criteria for teacher evaluation. The state and feds are revisiting how teachers are evaluated and they think one of the measures of a teachers success should include how much students learn. I agree. Should it be the only measure? No. But it should be one. And MCAS doesn’t need to be the measure.

Actions speak louder than words.

The current discussions about the extension of the superintendents contract is a place we can see where candidates values lay. Again, the primary role of the school committee is to hire, oversee, and collaborate with a superintendant that is able to support strong education of students in Worcester Public Schools. Our current superintendant has demonstrated a list of accomplishments for the district that outshines any recent superintendants including the ability to maintain 100% of programming during such dire economic times. In fact, she’s been able to bring more programming to the district.

I support:

• John Monfredo
• Jack Foley
• John Trobaugh

They have shown that, in addition to their personal agendas and perspectives that they will bring to their work, they understand that the bottom line is a strong leader who is able to show growth and improvements across the district. A leader who is able to balance the needs of the neediest students with the needs of the most advantaged and gifted students. I know that Dr. Boone is taking this school system in the direction we need to go in, and there’s proof to show it. I am concerned about the intention of those that would rally so hard to remove a proven successful leader, such as Tracy Novick. What direction does she want the schools to go in? I believe she would love to see it go back to the old system where the superintendent wasn’t focused on all students, only those students who’s parents voted and voiced their opinions through school committee members. Ms. Novick, Ms. Biancheria, and Mr. O’Connell who are elected to represent all the families of WPS’s have demonstrated again and again that they are committed to the constituents that voted them in, not the needs of the student body they were elected to shepherd.

Ms. Dianna Biancheria is proud of her role in bringing new programming to North High. She should be. However she seems completely apathetic to the fact that the policies for those programs are biased against poor white students and students of color.

Mr. O’Connell has admitted that Dr. Boone has been very successful in the past two years, yet says he would not want to renew the Superintendents contract for the standard 3 years to “send a message.” He has said that he thinks there are some areas he’d like her to focus more on, so holding back and suggesting only a two-year extension would make his point. What kind of a message is that? The school committee should not be a place where individual committee members play with peoples contracts because they are not willing to bend to individual whims. The school committee is supposed to set policy collectively, through the democratic process as part of a shared agenda. Enough with the personal agendas.

In fact, some school committee members have been much more concerned with the teachers than they have been of the students. I feel we have to care about both, but when it’s time to make decisions, the bottom line has to be “what is in the best interest of the students?” When we ask that question, we get answers that include strong teachers, happy teachers, teachers that have the resources needed for instruction, well trained teachers, and so much more that is pro-teacher.

The current school committee began two years ago with a newly hired Superintendent. Now, not everyone was pleased at this new hire. Maybe it was because she isn’t from Worcester, or because she’s a woman, or because she’s a person of color, or just because it wasn’t the guy most thought was a shoe-in… the one that was part of the same old network. On top of that, Worcester was identified as having two underperforming schools that the state was requiring immediate drastic action on. The state was basically telling us that we weren’t making the necessary improvements and, we needed to choose from a small array of choices for change or they might come in and take over the schools themselves. The tough decision needed to be made and our new Superintendant make the recommendations and lead the transformation of those two schools which included the removal of the principals at both schools.

I attended to school committee forums and was the first place I saw how different some of the school committee members views were from mine and those of my community. The conversations were primarily focused on the teachers and the terrible conditions they had to work under in “those” schools with “those” kids who had “those” parents. There was a lot of code speak but it was clear that there was an assumption that teachers and principal should not be held accountable because there was no way to do any better with “those” kids. The forums were not focused on what needed to happen to improve the student outcomes of the “those” kids.

Dr. Boone has walked her talk of high expectations for students, teachers, administrators, and the community.

During that same time, I have come to have a greater appreciation for some of the school committee members that are willing to learn about the student body and their families, in order to recommend policies that they think will benefit all WPS students.

The biggest job of the school committee is to hire, evaluate, and collaborate with the superintendant of schools. That’s pretty much it. To make sure they hire a qualified individual that can demonstrate continuous movement toward strong student achievement.

What I’ve come to learn is that all of the committee members are not focused on student achievement at all. At least, not for all students. For example, Tracy Novick has spent the last two years fighting against the superintendants focus on student achievement. That has been Ms. Novick’s platform. She has wasted hours on hours of school committee time on soap box rants against the MCAS. Why do I say wasted? Well, I think most of us believe that the MCAS test used as a high stakes exam has been bad policy, but it is a state requirement and more than 60% of the WPS’s funding is tied to the state. Unless Ms. Novick plans on telling the state “no thanks” to its funding, the school committee meeting is not the place for her personal opinion. What’s worse is she has twisted this contractual obligation as an assault on the superintendent, who has done an amazing job meeting those obligations and surpassing statewide improvements.

As I listen to the politicians speak over the last two years and during the current forums, it has become abundantly clear that the big difference is who the candidates are most focused on. It is my opinion that some have their priorities wrong given their role in the city.

There are seven committee members that include six elected, plus the mayor. Of the six elected, more than half come from the West Side of the city. Including the mayor, all of the members are White and have middle – upper income levels. So, what does this have to do with anything? Well, the school committee is responsible for setting policy and they also work with the Superintendent to identify priorities for the cities schools. That means, what they think is important… what is important in their lives and the lives of their family and friends is typically going to be what is at the forefront of their minds to focus on… to set as priorities. This is where perspective can come into play.

Mr. Foley has worked at Clark University in Main South for many, many years. From these experiences, and others, I can see that he has a deeper understanding of the students of the Worcester Public Schools.

Mr. Monfredo was a principal for 20 years. He always had a full parent room and his teaching staff enjoyed working with him.

Mr. Trobaugh wants to work with the present administration to bring positive changes. Also supporting real parent involvement.

It is the responsibility of us to choose the school committee that will work for our children. All children in Worcester, regardless where they live or where they go to school. We must work together as a community to keep all children out of the school to prison pipeline.

District reps for the Worcester Public Schools NOW!

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.

Worcester School Committee member Tracy Novick – Part 2

By Rosalie Tirella

Here’s another reason why Tracy Novick shouldn’t be on the school committee of an urban school district like Worcester: she’s anti-public-school-teacher evaluation.

Stand for Children – a Mass organization lead by Latino parents and hell bent on closing the achievement gap between upper-income and low-income students – is PRO teacher evaluations. So are lots of inner-city parents – and InCity Times. We want our teachers to be the very best, we want them to try their best, we want them to help underprivileged kids achieve success in school – and be the best in life.

Usually, with first- and second-generation Americans, the only way to climb out of poverty is to excel in school. My grandparents came from Poland. They had nothing. My grandfather worked in the textile mills in Dudley to support his wife and four kids, promising to himself that the blood he was sweating in the mill would mean more opportunities for his children. Well, one of his kids – his son – was an officer in the Navy during World War II, and when he came home from the war, he went to college – Holy Cross. He became a history teacher. His son also graduated from Holy Cross and today he is an accountant.

On the other side, the man my aunt – my mom’s sister -married was also the son of Polish immigrants. They worked like animals. My uncle was an ambitious kid – going to the library every day to read the newspaper because his family couldn’t afford a subscription. Guess what? He also served in the military in WW II and when he came home went to Fordam University and eventually became a school principal. Today his three kids – all adults – are upper middle class and contribute to society: one is a doctor and researcher in a major MidWestern University! His other son is also a doctor. His daughter is a teacher; she married a civil engineer, also the son of Polish immigrants.

How did they get to the top? PUBLIC EDUCATION! Most of it in the good ol’ Worcester Public Schools!

My relatives also believe in teacher evals – a no-nonsense way to make sure our teachers are doing a great job.

Today’s immigrants and children of immigrants are no different from my family! They want the same things! They came to this country just as impoverished!

Worcester School Committee member Tracy Novick is – once again – out of step with achieving the American dream for kids of immigrants and the poor – a majority in the Worcester Public Schools. Novick is bashing the state educaiton commissioner for trying to establish some standards for the state’s public school teachers.

It is this top-down approach that is making Novick so crazy. Novick is so anti-regulation, she is not able to see where the state and the country is going – and what kind of kids and fmailies make up our public schools. Our state leaders are sick and tired of teachers complaining they aren’t treated like professionals and then balking when they have to act like pros. Every professional on the planet has yearly evaluations, usually done by a boss – usually tied to pay raises – or firings … .

This should be the case for our public school teachers.

And it will be!

The state is heading in the right direction, but Novick isn’t listening. State officials don’t want everything to hang on the MCAS test score results. Commissioner Chester and crew want to make student MCAS scores/standardized test scores count for 50% of a teacher’s evaluation. The other 50% will come from evaluations (throughout the school year) by fellow teachers and the principal. Then, and only then, will the teacher get a “score.” A true job evaluation.

This makes perfect sense. Once again, if Novick realized she was representing a majority minority school system, she would stop trying to put a KIBOSH on teacher evaluations and instead WORK WITH THE STATE EDUCATION DEPARTMENT TO CRAFT AN EVALUATION PROCESS THAT GUARANTEES THAT TEACHERS WILL ALSO BE EVALUATED BY THEIR PEERS.

It has to be both – half test-score results – half in-class observations by the teachers peers and principals.

Why?

Well, what if the teacehr is excellent but she teaches at an inner-city school, and every year tons of poor kids cycle into the school from other schools? This is the case in Worcester and other cities all over the country. How can the excellent teacher overcome hurdles like a student who just plopped into the her class after moving from Springfield or even another Worcester school where the teachers were merely OK? What about the students who come to school hungry or sleep-deprived because their families are so dysfunctional? These kids can’t be expected to learn a whole lot. First, they need food and a good night’s sleep. What about the students who witness violence – in their homes or neighborhoods? They may be so disturbed, the best teacehr in the world could not make a difference. Hence their low MCAS scores.

But if a teacher is graded by how she relates to and teaches her students and the teacher is sensitive and helps her kids reach a new, higher level of anything (even if it is below state standards), or she gets one lost student interested in art or music, and she is loved by her students, then that teacher should not be given a poor evaluation. The MCAS scores of her students may be horrible – but she is working miracles with the kids she’s got.

That excellence and dedication will be noted by her peers and principal’s evaluations – and she will be rewarded with a high score on the other half of ther state evaluation.

Novick is playing scare-monger. She is getting people to think that “the system” will not be able to account for all the human/real world aspects of teaching. She is tellling folks that the state’s evaluation forms will be totally MCAS score-based. That is a lie. The real world, and real kids and real feelings will be able to shine through.

And good teachers will always make the cut. The incompetent ones will – hopefully – be weeded out so our public school students can get the best possible education (given all the messy circumstances).

Why Worcester School Committee member Tracy O’Connell Novick must go

By Rosalie Tirella

I’ve thought about it and often wondered: How did Tracy O’Connell Novick, someone so anti-innercity students/families get elected to the Worcester School Committee? Most likely the reason: Irish surname and church ladies/their ilk who liked someone white – a white, young stay-at-home mother, etc. Someone who just loves children.

Bull shit. Novick is the last thing the Worcester Public Schools needs. She should be jettisoned (by the voters this Novemeber) fro the Worcester School Committee. And move to Weston where she would be a much better fit.

This all came home a few days ago when I was at the Worcester Public Library on Salem Square and saw ol’ Tracy Novick with her kids walking from the library parking lot to the entrance of the library. There she was:

Like something out of a 1950s Leave it to Beaver show – only this one filmed in Weston or Wellsley – certainly not in Worcester. Novick was wearing a long skirt – and yellow Izzody shirt and little yellow shoes to match her little yellow shirt. And BIG sunglasses. Sort of a June Cleaver for Worcester – without the great looks of the actress who played June (who in real life was actually divorced and raising her kids on her own – a working single mom).

As Novick – who lives on Olean Street – stopped her kids to let the car go she seemed so fake. The Queen of Olean Street (in a west side neighborhood). Waiting for the car to crawl by, looking so concerned, I thought: what a little performance. Her actions, telling her kids to wait, were so “Watch me! I am the perfect mom! I am a star in Worcester and a role model for the community!” Watch me!

And that was the problem. 1.: Novick was all show, wanted to be stared at, recognized 2. and when no one milling about outside the library (there were several folks) gave a damn, Novick began looking around for the attention -to her left, the guy on the cell phone. Didn’t he recognize her, God damn it?!

No, Tracy, no one gives a shit about you – least of all you school committee votes/stands.

Which is why you shouldn’t be in office. You don’t represent the kids and families of Worcester – most of whom are poor and people of color. You whacked away at Dr. Boone – Worcester’s first female, black school superintendent. You basically said “shove your feelings” to the Goddard School parents who testified at a winter school committee meeting on behalf of Goddard School and its principal. You heard the pleas of these Latino families and you still went on with your MCAS witch hunt. Earlier in the year, you voted against the government funds that were given to (without your vote) some of our inner city schools so our kids’ education would get a boost.

You vote against everything that will help our inner city kids because you claim all these federal/state funds come with strings, and you want our school committee and school system to be autonomous.

Just like folks in Wellsley or Weston.

In those Mass suburbs everyone is rich and highly privileged; even if all their schools were dynamited away, the kids in those towns would still get a great education, courtesy of their highly educated/successful parents and all the extracurricular enrichment programs parents can afford to send their kids to.

That is not the case in Worcester, Tracy. We depend, like Blanch Debois, on the “kindness of strangers” – the feds and the state.

You have stood on what you think is principal, but you’ve actually stood in the way of Hispanic student acheivement and low-income kid achievement. Our school system is a majority minority system – and filled with lots of low-income kids. You do them no good – maybe even harm.

Get the fuck off our school committee – move to Weston you belong, where your kind of ideas, votes and leadership will be appreciated.

It’s not here.

The Goddard School, MCAS scores and political grandstanding

By Rosalie Tirella

There they were – women who reminded me of my mom: first-generation Americans holding minimum-wage jobs, trying to keep their kids safe in a tough neighborhood – pinning all their hopes and dreams on their kids, realizing that if ever they were to become “something” in America it would have to be through public education. There they were – mostly Hispanic – going up to the mic and defending their beloved Goddard School after it was torn apart – brick by old brick – by a few insensitive Worcester School Committee members.

Goddard parents came up and stood before the crowd to tell the Worcester School Committee that Goddard School was tops in their book. The school’s teachers and staff were dedicated, the school-wide reading program – excellent. Some of the Spanish-speaking parents used their kids as interpreters. School Committee Mary Mullaney called the public hearing “a beautiful” experience – seeing the families and hear them all speaking so lovingly of their Main South grammar school.

What we all witnessed was a reaffirmation of America and what it means to be an American. It has nothing to do with being rich or connected – it has everying to do with how hard you try, how diligently you work. If your parents were from Equador – cool! Join the American family! Here is your grand school! Here are the teachers who want to see you read and write and grow up to be teachers and doctors and community leaders.

The American public school system. Books, learning, knowledge. Schools like Goddard that not only teach kids but feed them and welcome their families and anchor an entire neighborhood.
It was wonderful to hear a Goddard parent – a Ms. Ortiz – laugh and speak with pride about her daughter complaining that she is getting too much homework at Goddard. And that it is so hard. Hooray! was Ms. Ortiz’s response. Keep challenging my daughter, keep making her grow and learn!

But let’s back track: The Worcester School Committee held this meeting/public hearing because of a bad thing that happened: the state department of education’s decision to invalidate all of the Goddard School MCAS test results.

It was the kind of meeting where the “people” shone and the politicians bombed. I believe the meeting will make or break the political futures/careers of school committeewomen Tracy Novick and Dianne Biancheria. The two women – especially Novick – believe they have staked out some sort of moral high ground in calling for total access to the state’s Goddard MCAS investigation/findings. Long time (and popular) Worcester School Comittee member Brian O’Connel – who amazingly joined the two women in their foolhardy quest – will most likely come out of this creepy episode in WPS history relatively unscathed. And besides, he sort of backpedaled during the school committee meeting, sounding not half as harsh or accusatory as his two colleagues, even though he signed on to their misguided petition.

And what do Novick and company want? They want to SEE EVERY STATE DEPT. of EDUCATION DOCUMENT re: the Goddard MCAS test investigation that lead to the state chucking all of the Goddard students’ MCAS scores. Novick and company want to see every note, every name, every nuance in the case. They say they want to shed light on this “scandal” and that transparency is golden.

Poppy cock.

The state dept. of education has conducted a thorough investigation, remedies will be made and Goddard School will move forward.

That is all we need to know.

Not Novick and pals. Apparently, they are determined to discover which teachers at The Goddard School were a bit overzealous when adminstering the state MCAS tests. They want to know which Goddard teachers were nudging their student test-takers in the right direction (read: right answers), writing out more of an answer than what a child dictated to them (for the special needs kids with IEP plans) and encouraging students to put down more detailed answers.

Inquiring minds want to know!

Dr. Boone, Goddard School and four of the Worcester School Committee members have accepted the state findings and, like me, want to move forward.

This is not a cop out. The state, working with our school superintendent Dr. Melinda Boone, conducted an exhaustive investigation and has come up with a remedial plan for Goddard School. Months of interviewing teachers, confering with Dr. Boone, poring over the tests – and what Worcester got from the state was this: a reprimand, an official reprimand (not a firing) of Goddard School Prinicpal Mrs. Guerra, and a change in the way the test is adminstered in Goddard – from now on the district takes over. Also, the state is mandating a city-wide training program of all our public school prinicpals during which time they will re-learn how to properly administer the MCAS test.

Everyone accepts this, accept Novick and Company.

No one but Dr. Boone and (I’m assuming Goddard staffers) have seen the state paperwork. The Worcester community just knows the results – outcomes. This is fine with me. This is also fine with Mayor Joseph O’Brien, head of the Worcester School Committee, and three other Worcester School Committee members: John Monfredo, Jack Foley and Mary Mullaney. They have accepted the state’s findings, reprimands and want to move on.

Not Novick and Company.

Why torment an entire school? Why publicly point fingers at kids and teachers? Why make a school that is heroically serving poor inner-city families ashamed?

Novick and Company want to know who did what at Goddard and when – and why. They want to know what went on in each and every Goddard School classroom the day that the MCAS test was adminstered to the entire school. They say they aren’t conducting a witch hunt but that is exactly what they are doing. They say it is all information that the WPS committee and the public should be privvy to.

Oh, yeah?

And here is where Novick and company lose me. So they can do what? Say what? Recommend what? These people – the Worcester School Committee – set policy for the WPS. They do not run our schools, they do not adminster school tests to our students, they do not hire or fire school teachers or principals. Many of them are not school teachers – have never taught kids in a classroom. Novick and company cannot change (in any way) the manner in which the MCAS test is given or the tests’ content, test-taking rules, etc.

I believe this is all about a privileged, white, out-of-touch, stay-at home-Mom – Tracy Novick – and her quest for the spotlight. She is dragging Goddard School students into the mud with her on some self-righteous quest. A quest that serves no one, certainly not the students and staff at Goddard.

Novick took to the bully pulpit with a relish I have not seen in a long time: Yes! Good People of Worcester, she seemed to say, I will save you! Save you from the horrible MCAS tests! Save you from the horrible Mr. Chester at the state ed dept. I will fight for the autonomy of the classroom teacher! Help me dissect all that happend on the horriffic shameful day – so every one – especially the kids – relivesthe horror – the instances when it all went wrong. Then the enitre city will know who these imperfect teachers are and (let’s not kid ourselves) who the underperforming students are.

Can you imagine what it would be like to be the two or three or five or ten Goddard students who made the mistakes that cost the entire school their MCAS test results?

If the MCAS is as irrelevant as Nocick says, why belabor the state results? Why go over tests that she feels are pointless – even detrimental to the stukdents of WPS students? Maybe that’s the answer: This Goddard mini-scandal has given Nocik the chance to UNDO the MCAS and become a hero to families all thorugh the state.

Novick needs to cool her heels – and review the public access channels filming of the School Committee meeting. She looks shrill and immature.

Bianchiaria? God knows who put what in her Kool Aid. As I watched the school committee meetings and heard people testify for and against the state results – Bianchiara came off as the dopiest person in the room. By the end of the hearing, she could bearly talk – had lost her voice. We only wish it had happened earlier. Bianchiria kept saying she was out of the loop – intimating that she was not one of the favored school committe memembers who she thinks have a prtivate phone line straight to Dr. Boone’s desk telephone.

This could not be further from the truth. Other shcool committee members have told the disgruntled Bianchirai that Dr. Boone has a “call me anytime” policy and that all Bianchiria needs to do is to pick up the phone.

There are some observers who have this theory: Dianna Biancheria lost her great job at the Worcester School Department (she worked on Irving Street) and has an axe to grind.

Neither I nor any of these school committee folks are proponets of cheating, believe in cover ups or wish to harm the students of the Worcester public Schools. In fact, people like O’Brien and Monfredo, are passionate about inner-city kids and reaching them in any way they can to improve their lives.

Mayor O’Brien lives in the heart of Main South and said during the meeting that he knows many of the Goddard School students and their families. Monfredo, is one of the most selfless people I kknow. I had him as a fifth grade teacher in the old Lamartine Street School when I was 10. He was – and I can say this with all certainty – the best, the BEST teacher I ever had. He loved all the Lamartine kids and worked so hard to teach us and to help us grow as citizens of the world. Books, games, pocket pets, field trips, song writing contests, cool arts andcrafts projects, etc – this is what Mr.Monfredo did for all of his gradefive students – and the school.
Mr. Monfredo went on to become Belmont Community School principal – one of Worcester’s poorest schools in one of the city’s most challenging neighborhoods.

Mr. Monfredo retired and immediatley began writing a column for my paper – InCity Times – and ran for Worcester School committee – and won. Big time. Every parent in every poor neighborhod of Worcester knows or knows of the great work Mr. Monfredo has done for the neediest kids of Worcester. And did I forget to mention he and his wife, Anne Marie, a former teacher at Nelson Place School, run a county wide book drive, getting thousands and thousands of books donated to their volunteer group Worcester, The City That Reads. The group distributes the books to needy kids, families and schools.

Though I am no huge fan of Mary Mullaney, she had all of her kids (several – a gaggle of them) attend the Worcester Public Schools. She was very very involved in all her kids’ school careers.

Let’s side with these folks in saying NO to Novick and Company’s misguided crusade!