Tag Archives: Worcester Public Schools

Gordy in fashion: Wrong Time for Meet And Greet of WPS Superintendant Candidates

By Gordon Davis
 
Last night’s meet and greet event for the candidates for the Superintendancy of our Public School District was mistimed. The event should have taken place after the announcement of the newly appointed Superintendant on March 14, 2016.

I only saw two Worcester School Committee members at the event. John Monfredo, who said that he would vote for candidate Maureen Binienda, and Brian O’Connell, who was noncommittal, came.

It is not entirely clear how the opinion of the people who came to this event could affect the opinion of the Worcester School Committee. This has not been the first meaningless political show put on by the City of Worcester.

Three of the candidates are qualified for the job: Dr. Rodrigues, Dr. Binienda and Dr. Allen. Dr. Mulcahy is not quite ready to be school superintendant, but I think she will, in the future, be a stronger candidate for a superintendency.

Dr. Rodriques presented the strongest credentials for running the Worcester School District. He said his experience as the interim superintendant of the WPS, assistant superintendant of our school district, and the manager of special education has shown that he knows and can run the complex Worcester School District. For every question I asked him, he was able to give me a detailed answer.

Dr. Rodrigues spoke of his experience regarding his moving to Worcester. He said that many students in the Worcester Public Schools are new arrivals to America, and sometimes English is not their primary language. He felt that he might be able to connect to the students in Worcester Schools in ways more associated with their circumstances. It is well known that the Worcester School System is transiting to a majority minority student body.

Candidate Binienda touted her years as principal at South High School and another Worcester school.  She was also a special needs teacher. Dr. Binienda has an interesting idea of collaboration between Worcester State University and the Worcester high schools, especially in the area of criminal justice education.
 
However, her answers to questions about the Worcester Schools were generalized without the details that, in my opinion, a person would need to hit the ground running as our school superintendant.

Candidate Allen talked about the need to make the Worcester Schools more efficient. She also touted her years as principal of Norback School. Like Dr. Binienda, Dr. Allen spoke in general terms. Nonetheless, I was impressed with her sense of organization and place.

I suppose there will be another meet and greet after the Worcester School Committee appoints Dr. Binienda as next Superintendant of the Worcester Public School District.

I think that Dr. Rodrigues will continue to work diligently and loyally as an Assistant Superintendant until the time some school system sees his abilities and experience and steals him away.
 
It is my opinion that Dr. Allen has the ability to turn around a school system in receivership.

I give Kudos to Dr. Mulcahy for throwing her hat into the ring.

Time will tell if Worcester will make a good decision on Monday.

The lives of our children depend upon it.

One of my favorite places in Worcester …

… the WPL Greendale branch library on West Boylston Street …

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Here I am in their bathroom today, after checking out a ton of cool stuff! – Rosalie T.

My second fave place/s:

THE WORCESTER PUBLIC SCHOOLS!

From WPS Superintendent Rodrigues:

Ukulele Donation

The WPS music staff is proud to announce The Kala Brand Music Company has donated 80 soprano ukuleles to our middle school music programs. They also donated 40 ukuleles to Quinsigamond School! We are so excited to help our students make some amazing music! Thank you Kala!

Birth to 3rd Grade Initiative

Last night, the Report of the Superintendent to the School Committee showcased the Birth to 3rd Grade Initiative. The initiative has brought together many local Early Education and Care providers to engage in strengthening PreK-K transitions for children and families, develop effective frameworks, and to build and grow a community that focus and support literacy in the early formative years. This initiative also produced the Worcester’s Characteristics of Kindergarten Readiness: Transitioning from Preschool to Kindergarten document.

WCVB Eye Openers

In the past few weeks, five Worcester Public Schools have introduced on WCVB’s Eye Opener newscasts at 5 and 6am. Here are the links to watch if you missed them:
·         Thorndyke Road School
·         Midland Street School
·         Vernon Hill School
·         Rice Square School
·         Worcester Arts Magnet

Read Across America

The National Education Association’s Read Across America is an annual reading motivation and awareness program that calls for every child in every community to celebrate reading on March 2, the birthday of the beloved children’s author Dr. Seuss.

Worcester Public School students will be celebrating with special activities throughout the district.

Tufts at Tech

Congratulations to the Veterinary Assisting program and the Tufts at Tech Veterinary Clinic on being awarded $347,882.00 for new equipment and supplies to expand their program and update technology!

Special thanks to Christina Melvin, Patricia Suomala, and Dr. Wolfus for the extra effort put in to write and submit the excellently prepared grant. The grant is from the Workforce Skills Capital Grant Program.
District Business

The administration is pleased to announce that the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education has approved the Burncoat Elementary School’s Exit Assurance Plan. Burncoat Elementary is now officially a Level 3 school. Congratulations Burncoat Elementary school community!!!

Hooray!!! Kudos to all involved!!!! … Supporting local farmers! Supporting the working class and poor! FRESH PRODUCE AND MORE VIA WORCESTER’S NEW FOOD HUB!!!

The Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce (Chamber) and the Regional Environmental Council of Central MA (REC) are pleased to announce continued funding for their food hub partnership.
 
In 2015, the Chamber and the REC embarked on a yearlong assessment to determine the feasibility of establishing a food hub in the Worcester region.

Food hubs are broadly defined as facilities that manage the aggregation, storage, processing, distribution, or marketing of locally and regionally produced food. A food hub provides better consumer access to fresh, locally grown food and a larger consumer market for the region’s farmers.
 
At the conclusion of the study, an application was submitted to The Health Foundation for funding of a pilot year. A slate of programs falling into three categories have been identified for the pilot grant year.

These initiatives will:

support healthy local food access

job creation

economic development

While the food hub currently has no official headquarters, much of the pilot year activities will be operated out of the Worcester County Food Bank in, Shrewsbury.
 
“Food is fundamental to our lives. We all eat, and we all want to eat fresh healthy food. So, ease of access to affordable healthy food is critically important to us, regardless of our station in life. Yet, it is estimated that 90 percent of the food we eat in New England comes from somewhere else,” stated Dr. Jan Yost, president of The Health Foundation of Central Massachusetts. “Thus, the Foundation is pleased to announce a grant of $423,235 to the Regional Environmental Council of Central Massachusetts to partner with the Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce to pilot a regional food hub.”

Yost went on to explain that, “Today 80 percent of the land in New England is covered with forest, much of which used to be farmland. Researchers suggest that by 2060, New England could expand its farmland to 6 million acres, or 15 percent of the entire land mass, which would enable New England to grow half of its own food.”
 
“The Worcester County Food Bank is the region’s largest anti-hunger organization, annually distributing nearly 6 million pounds of donated fresh and non-perishable food to a network of 131 Partner Agencies that help feed hungry people”, said Jean McMurray, Worcester County Food Bank’s Executive Director. 

She continued: “We are proud to host the Food Hub’s pilot year because we believe that healthy food grown and processed by community members benefits the entire community, including those struggling with poverty and hunger.”
 
Responsibility for pilot year activities will be split among the partner organizations, with the REC leading efforts to create opportunities for healthy eating via marketing, aggregation, and distribution of local farm products to institutional food service providers at area schools, colleges, and hospitals.

An initial group of eight to ten small to mid-sized family farms will be involved in these activities during the pilot year and four to five institutional buyers will be purchasing local farm products via the food hub.

The food hub will also be working to enhance healthy, local food offerings through the REC’s existing Mobile Farmers Market and through the City of Worcester Division of Public Health’s Mass In Motion Healthy Corner Store initiative.
 
”The REC has been working with organizational partners and grassroots community members for decades to help make healthy, local food universally accessible in the Greater Worcester area,” said Steve Fischer, REC Executive Director. “We are thrilled at the prospect that a regional food hub could help create a regional food system that is increasingly based on principles of economic and social justice and environmental sustainability. Working together, we have an opportunity to make healthy food more accessible while supporting local farmers, growing the economy, creating jobs, and preserving the environment.”
 
The Chamber will oversee food hub activities operated through a Commercial Kitchen Incubator to be located at the Worcester County Food Bank. During the pilot year, the Chamber will spearhead the recruitment of potential tenants including farmers, budding food entrepreneurs, small culinary businesses looking to take the next step in their development, and even home cooks looking to scale up a long-held family recipe.
 
“Given the success of last year’s planning grant process, we are excited to move forward with this pilot year that will set the stage for long-term success,” stated Chamber president and CEO Timothy P. Murray. “Our efforts with the commercial kitchen fit into our working motto of recruit, retain and incubate. Incubating the next generation of food entrepreneurs will help them turn their passion into a career, add to the region’s growing food economy, and result in a healthier population in Worcester and Central Massachusetts.”
 
The final piece of the pilot year project is a culinary training program that will be overseen by Quinsigamond Community College (QCC).

QCC expects to train at least 2 cohorts of 8-10 students and to provide job placement at area restaurants, caterers and institutional food service providers.

This new certificate program will target students who are members of vulnerable populations in Worcester County and who have previously experienced barriers to employment.
 
Dale Allen, QCC’s vice president for community engagement stated “Quinsigamond Community College is excited about being selected as a key partner in this grant. We are committed to supporting program activities that will increase access to healthy, fresh foods for underserved neighborhoods in our city. This program will be modeled after QCC’s successful ‘Cooking Up a Culinary Career’ program which has been offered for the past several years through the Worcester Youth Center and Hector Reyes House. We look forward to working with the Regional Environmental Council and Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce to expand access to healthy food and economic self-sufficiency for vulnerable populations in Worcester County.”
 
All of the pilot activities will be carefully evaluated and measured by an evaluation team from John Snow Inc., a health consultant company. Working closely with the grant management team throughout the pilot year JSI will continually evaluate the activities to provide real time feedback. The success of the outcomes of the various aspects of the piloted activities will be key to determining how the food hub operates after the pilot year.
 
The Food Hub project will hire a full-time operations manager to oversee the day-to-day aspects of the project during the pilot year.

Other partners collaborating on the project include Central Mass Grown, World Farmers/Flats Mentor Farm, Worcester Public Schools, Pepper’s Fine Catering, UMass Amherst Stockbridge School of Agricultural Extension, Worcester Division of Public Health and the Community Harvest Project.

Gordon is parked in music!

Our Worcester Legislative Delegation Failing the Worcester Public Schools

By Gordon Davis

Several decades ago Massachusetts Public School Systems were seen as one of the fundamental element of our prosperity and well being.  Although it still is today a basis for our quality of life, Public Schools are not held in the same esteem as then.

There are those who outright want to destroy the best Public School systems in the nation by changing over to charter schools.  Governor Charlie Baker fits this characterization. There are those who do not care and see the Public School systems as a financial burden. Then there are those who desire good Public Schools, but do nothing as the schools are being undefended and left to deteriorate.

To some extent the Worcester legislative delegation is the latter.

I suppose it is not much different that other cities in Massachusetts have Public Schools that are becoming majority minority or majority children of color. 

State representatives Mary Keefe and John Mahoney have made statements in support of fully funded Public Schools.

Rep. Keefe raised the idea of a coalition of “gateway cities.” 

This is needed. I hope she is working on effectuating the coalition. They should get credit for their statements.

Chapter 70 of Mass. Gen. Laws was passed to ensure that the poorer communities have good public schools. The basis for the statute is that schools dependent on property taxes in poorer communities would have less money than the more affluent towns where property values and taxes are higher.

Although the law obliges the State to fully fund Public Schools in accordance with the Foundation Formula found in Chap. 70, the politicians always seem to find a way to shortchange Worcester and other cities that are transitioning to a majority children of color schools. This is an outrage and could possible lead to the situation seen in Detroit and Philadelphia where underfunding precipitated inadequate education.

If Worcester was fully funded by the State as is required by Chapter 70 the Worcester Public School System would receive an ADDITIONAL $92 million per year. 

For fiscal 2017 the Worcester Public School System is facing a $22 million deficit.  The $92 million owed to the City’s schools would cover the deficit and have money to reduce class sizes and improve opportunities.

In Worcester about $3 million from taxes go into our Public Schools. This amount is rumored to be scheduled to be reduced by between one and two million dollars. For the more affluent towns relative much more money per capital is allocated to their schools. These towns can do this as their property values and taxes are higher than Worcester.

Several groups are raising the issue, including CPPAX, Jobs Not Jail, Mass. Human Rights, and others.

It is time the Worcester legislative delegates spoke out more forcibly for fully funded schools.

It is time the delegation tell us in detail how it intends to get full funding for Worcester children.  

The issue of education of our children is too important to let the people representing us to just make a few platitudes and do nothing.

The platitude of “working behind the scene to effectuate change” is no longer credible.  

Worcester Public Schools Superintendent Search in Disarray

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The pretend-search for the next superintendent of the Worcester Public Schools begins!

By Gordon Davis

A subcommittee of the Worcester School Committee held a “forum” this week on what qualities Worcester residents want to see in the new Superintendent of the Worcester Public Schools.  

The so-called forum was confusing and to some extent showed how inexperienced or confused the three so-called panelists from the school committee were.

As a rule, the panelists are the speakers. In this forum the panelists said nothing and Worcester residents spoke from the floor.

School Committee woman Molly McCullough ran the “forum” like a school marm.

She seemed a little nervous and unsure as she told speaker after speaker “your time is up”, “please only talk about skills”, and “hold your applause.”

The irony here is that the first speaker from the audience asked what are the objective requirements for selecting a new school superintendent and whether direct experience as a superintendent was required.

The same speaker asked if speaking a second language other than English is a requirement. 

The three school committee women on stage, Donna Colorio, Dianne Briancharia and Molly McCullough, could not answer the questions. Ms. McCullough said she would refer the question to the school committee.

After the so called “forum,” Ms. McCullough and Ms. Briancharia took the time to share their personal criteria for a new superintendent; the successful candidate they said would be effective, communicative and a problem solver.

Ms. Colorio went out of her way not to give a statement on the qualities that she thinks a new superintendent should have. I suppose that she might have worried about a question regarding her vote to take money away from the Worcester Public schools and give it to charter schools.

School Committee members John Monfredo and Brian O’Connell, although not on the stage, gave more coherent answers as what are the preferred requirements for a superintendent. Mr. O’Connell said previous experience as a superintendent was preferred and the ability to speak a second language was a plus. Mr. Monfredo said that a Certificate of Superintendency was a must but a doctorate was a preference.

The president of the teachers union spoke and asked that a member of his union be on the search committee.

A representative from the Worcester Educational Cooperative said a superintendent should be able to fight for full funding from the state. The Worcester Public Schools are underfunded per the State of Massachusetts’ educational formula. This is especially true for special needs students.

A parent said a school superintendent should also be able to get funding for gifted students.
Worcester resident, Ken Person, said the Worcester schools were actually good schools when compared to other schools in the country. He wanted a superintendent that could continue and hopefully improve what is good about the Worcester Public Schools.

A couple of teachers felt that there is a need for a superintendent to be able to communicate well with all principal parties: students, parents, teachers and staff.

School safety was brought up by one speaker who thought that the decision to limit the search for a superintendent to within the Worcester School District was a mistake. He felt that a superintendent from a larger urban area with experience in school safety was needed.

Although the speaker on school safety was one of only a few who described an objective requirement, the school committee had previously decided against it.

Some speakers mentioned diversity and the fact that more than 90 languages are spoken by students in the Worcester Public schools. They suggested that the new superintendent should be able to relate to this diversity, not only educationally, but in terms of personal experience.

It was pretty clear that some of the school committee members could not or did not want to state objective criteria for a superintendent.

To some extent, this so called forum was a charade, masking a subjective choice that seems already made.

The Worcester School Committee will likely choose Maureen Bienienda, principal of South High School, as the the WPS Superintendent because she grew up in Worcester and worked her whole career in the Worcester Schools.

The Worcester School Committee will ignore the facts that WPS Interim School Superintendent Marco Rodriques has run an urban school district – ours – and has the same experiences of many in the Worcester Public Schools who have recently come to Worcester, as the Worcester school have become more diverse – a majority-minority school district.

The Worcester Way: The apples before the cart before the horse

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Lots of Worcester Public Elementary Schools have all-white teaching staffs while the schools’ students are predominantly minority kids. We hope new WPS Superintendent Maureen Binienda rights this wrong! Ha!

By Rosalie Tirella

Why attend any one of the Worcester Public Schools Superintendent Search “community,” “open,” “forums” that the City of Worcester is hosting next week and urging us Worcesterites to attend when we all know Maureen Binienda, principal of South High School and a lady at the tail end of her education career, will be crowned prom queen? The brandy new superintendent of the Worcester Public Schools!!!

For the City of Worcester to hold these two community “listening sessions” insults our collective intelligence. We Worcesterites should call ’em out and shout: LUDICROUS!!!

The move is almost as big a joke as the not so long ago hiring of Worcester boy and political insider Ed Augustus as new Woo City Manager AFTER Augustus swore up and down on his granny’s grave that he wasn’t interested in the CM job and would not take it even if it were offered to him as the big prize in a really cool gum ball machine from Unique Finds Antiques and Vintage Gift Store at Webster Square, the neighborhood where Augustus grew up …

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… AFTER the City of Worcester hired The Three Stooges Professional Search Firm to conduct a national city manager search to bring in some great job applicants outside the Worcester (cess)pool to be interviewed by supposedly unbiased city leaders …

… who decided AFTER those poor chumps (I mean job candidates) jumped through a billion quirky Worcester hoops to only learn that this screwy city was gonna hire the insider Augustus, but THANK YOU FOR LETTING US WASTE YOUR PRECIOUS TIME … You must have loved spending time HERE IN WORCESTER, spending a few weeks glad handing and schmoozing and answering a million questions posed by sometimes dense city leaders and honest regular folks, some of the questions very personal (remember the WPS Superintendent candidate who had declared bankruptcy or the most EXCELLENT, HARVARD-educated WPS Superintendent candidate who came in all the way from New Mexico?). … THANKS FOR BEING IN THE WORCESTER DOG AND PONY SHOW, folks! We’re certain you’ll speak highly of our city to friends, family and colleagues wherever you go!

If any serious candidate for any serious, seriously important City of Worcester job Googles Worcester, job search and hiring practices the search will yield: MORONS! BE VERY AFRAID! STAY AWAY!! Maybe the prospective job applicants will take the time they had planned to use to write their letters of interest, polish up their resumes, meet with headhunters and instead book a trip to Disneyland – the experience will be just as Goofy and surreal and mind-numbing! But at least you get cotton candy and pink lemonade and rides in the sky!

Most Worcesterites know our city government is dysfunctional and, like the little kid who’s seen mom and dad fuck each other over left and right, feels 1. This is normal behavior and 2. Is deeply depressed. Why just look at our city!

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Garbage strewn everywhere – some of it hanging from the tree branches. Stabbings galore, used syringes all over our backyards, people brandishing guns, entering homes with babies and mothers in them, mothers corralled into bedrooms, ever watchful babies scarred for life.

The insanity of Worcester city government (and America’s messed up economy) is reflected in the governed. And most Worcester peeps are saying: FUCK YOU! We know we’re zero in your eyes, Worcester city leaders; we know we’ve got to slog through our days while your relatives and cronies get $90,000 a year city jobs and other perks just because they know you. So here’s your shit sandwich, City Councilor Lukes!!! (BTW, Konnie Lukes is one hell of a slumlord!) Screw your combs and yellow city trash bags, City Councilor Gary Rosen!!!

Is it any wonder that after the City of Worcester has decided to CLOSE the WPS Superintendent Search and just interview LOCAL (read WORCESTER pal) candidates and AFTER city bigwigs have made Maureen Binienda Mayor of our politically important Worcester St. Patrick’s Day and after the muckety-mucks have all gone on record in one way or another to tell the world: MAUREEN BINIENDA WALKS ON WATER. SHE IS A WORCESTER IRISH CATHOLIC GAL. SHE KNOWS WHAT LIES IN THE HEART OF EACH AND EVERY ONE OF OUR STUDENTS IN OUR MAJORITY MINORITY SCHOOL SYSTEM, A SCHOOL SYSTEM FILLED WITH POOR AND DISENFRANCHISED STUDENTS. … Those students are about to learn Woo lesson #1: In Worcester it’s WHOM you know, not WHAT you know.

I mean, the fix is in.

Mo is in.

As usual, when it comes to hiring people for the City’s most prestigious (read politically powerful and connected), highest paying, bestest, coolest, most freakin’ PLUM jobs, the City of Worcester has shit all over itself.

Again.

It’s put the apples before the cart before the horse and made Worcester, the second largest city in New England, seem provincial, totally closed off, myopic, fearful of the future …

There will never be any NEW VISION in Worcester because city leaders are waiting at our half-empty airport with hot pokers in their fists ready to pounce on the next Melinda Boone – to stab his or her eyes out.

(Fashionably late?) … WPS Superintendent Search – open community forums

As you are aware, the School Committee has initiated its search for a new Superintendent.  

The Community Involvement Committee would like to extend an invitation to you to be a part of a very important step in this process which is to identify the qualities the members are seeking in our new Superintendent.

The open Community Forums will take place on Tuesday, February 2, 2016 at 7 p.m. in the Auditorium at Doherty Memorial High School and on Wednesday, February 3, 2016 at 7 p.m. in the Auditorium at North High School.

We hope to see you at one of these two sessions because your input would be most valuable to this process.

– Helen Friel

 

How the Old Worcester Network will hire Maureen Binienda as the next WPS Superintendent

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.

The City of Worcester’s Misuse of Police  

By Gordon Davis

The order by a city official to arrest community activist Chris Horton at the Martin Luther King Jr. Breakfast came as no surprise to me. The City of Worcester has a history of misusing its police force to solve what are social issues.

In the 1990s, then Mayor Raymond Mariano ordered the police to arrest students not in school during school hours, despite the fact that the Worcester Public Schools had truant officers who did the same job. This practice was opposed by a small group, the International Committee Against Racism, which argued police arresting children was a traumatizing event. The City leaders did not listen. The practice of the police arresting children for playing hooky was effectively stopped by a complaint made to the State Department of Labor Relations. The Hearing Officer ruled that arresting children for playing hooky was outside of the police contract.

Recently Mayor Joseph Petty and others passed an ordinance allowing the arrest of panhandlers. The proponents of the use of police force against this social issue used the pretext of “public safety.” In memory there was never anyone injured by a car while panhandling. Hundreds of people were wrongfully arrested under this ordinance. The Supreme Court of the United States has ruled the ordinances unconstitutional. The ACLU and a small group of activists, Real Solutions, opposed the unconstitutional ordinances.

Last year the Worcester City Council instructed Worcester City Manager Ed Augustus to put police officers full time in the Worcester Public Schools.  The City Council and Worcester School Committee had assigned full time police officers to each of the high schools. They did this BEFORE the Safety Report was completed. They did this BEFORE the State of Massachusetts required Memorandum of Understanding was completed. It is still not completed.

There is no evidence that the Worcester Public Schools had a serious safety issue. There is no evidence that police in the schools have made any school safer today. 

There is evidence that more students are being arrested at school for non-criminal activities that should be handled by the State mandated disciplinary policies found in M.G.L. Chap 222, Acts of 2012.

There is evidence that these arrests are traumatic experiences for the students and contribute to the school to jail pipeline. 

Two small groups, Mass. Human Rights and the Progressive Labor Party, are opposing the arresting of students at school.

The groups are hosting a “Students’ Rights Forum” on January 30 at 1 PM at the Worcester Public Library, 3 Salem Square.

 
The most obvious misuse of police force was the malicious prosecution of the BlackLives Matter protestors after the Kelly Square demonstration of 2015.

There was not enough evidence for either the police or the DA to file charges. City Manager Augustus then ordered the police department to use an unauthenticated video to take to the Clerk Magistrate.

The Clerk Magistrate ruled that there was some evidence of disturbing the peace.  At the trial the police sergeant said he did not see anyone at the demonstration do anything criminal. The judge has ruled that there were no criminal penalties. At this point: 3 of the 4 have been fined $100 each for disturbing the peace.

Phil Niddrie, co-chair of the MLK Jr. Breakfast, could have talked to Chris Horton BEFORE he called the police.

The so called liberals in our city government are quicker to use police force than to talk about other solutions.

In each of the events above there was an element of direct or disparate racism impact. This is especially true in the Worcester Public Schools, where thousands of students face an increased risk of arrest for non-criminal matters.

Many in the Black Community wonder aloud how did the MLK Jr. Breakfast get hijacked by the political establishment???

The use of police force to solve social problems is a sign of laziness and a lack of creativity among our city officials.

There is certainly a need to consider this when choosing who controls the police in our city.

In fashion! From Interim WPS Superintendent Rodrigues

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As we approach the midpoint of the school year, it is gratifying to look back on the progress we have made.  However, much is yet to be accomplished and challenges remain.  I am asking for your help in meeting these challenges with a renewed sense of purpose.  I truly believe that the commitment and perseverance of the staff of the Worcester Public Schools is second to none.  By working together, we will continue to provide high quality, effective instruction for every student every day.
 
This week, while visiting McGrath Elementary School and Midland Street School, I witnessed the commitment, dedication, and perseverance of our teachers providing small group instruction, facilitating whole-classroom lessons, organizing students in centers, and providing the “high quality teaching and learning” we all strive for.  A big shout out to Mr. Gribbons and his grade 6 students who were working diligently on illustrative vocabulary.
Celebrations and Updates

Inaugural

On Monday, January 4, members of the Worcester School Committee and Worcester City Council were sworn in at an inauguration event held at the Hanover Theatre for Performing Arts.  Mayor Joseph M. Petty said he will call for an enhanced health program for Worcester Public School students to keep them active, safe, and productive.  Members of the School Committee are Dianna L. Biancheria, Donna M. Colorio, Jack L. Foley, Molly O. McCullough, John F. Monfredo and Brian A. O’Connell.  The mayor also serves as chairman of the School Committee. The committee unanimously elected Mr. O’Connell as its vice chairman.
 
Mass Insight Education’s Partners in Excellence Award

Three South High Community School Advanced Placement Teachers are among this year’s winners of Mass Insight Education’s Partners in Excellence Award.  Mass Insight recognized South High teachers Erin Morrissey Hendricks, Mary Sebring and Tara Vaidya with the award for their work helping more students take AP courses at the high school.  In total, 54 teachers around the state won the award this year.  Winners will be honored at Mass Insight’s Partners in Excellence Award Celebration on April 5 in Boston.
 
West Tatnuck Books for Argentina

For the past year, the Intermediate Life Skills students in Nicole Scavone’s classroom at West Tatnuck School have engaged in a collaboration with the students of the Worcester Public Schools Transition Program and a group of student volunteers from the College of the Holy Cross.  Together, the group created books that are both written in Spanish, and also in Spanish Braille, and that are also tactile and interactive.  These books were designed for children in Argentina, who are both deaf and blind.
 
On December 17, 2015, the group members had the opportunity to host Marcela Zamponi, Headmaster of the Fatima Institute for Special Education in Buenos Aires, Argentina.  At that time, the group presented her with the first two books they authored for her students.
 
Congratulations to all involved in this innovative and exciting program which expands our “Worcester Reads 20” initiative beyond our city to those children in need.
 
Worcester County Superintendent Association Scholars Award
 
On Tuesday, January 5, I had the honor of joining our high school principals at the Worcester County Superintendent Association Scholars Luncheon, which took place at Worcester Polytechnic Institute.  The luncheon honors selected high school seniors from Worcester County for their academic, social, and civic achievements.
 
I am pleased to congratulate Worcester’s recipients:
 
Burncoat High:  Laurana Nyman; Claremont Academy:  Jaqueline Alvarez; Doherty High:  Aubrey Leary and Madeleine Lerner; North High:  Allen Quang and Rachel Dao; South High:  Kenneth Adusei and Dominik Danko; University Park Campus:  Sibgha Javaid; and Worcester Technical:  Abeeku Bondzie and Tauny Tambolleo.
 
Posse Scholars
 
I am pleased to announce that the Posse Foundation has chosen six Worcester high school students as recipients of full four-year tuition scholarships.  These scholarships are awarded to students who have not only succeeded academically but have also demonstrated leadership and are committed to building community and celebrating diversity with their schools.
 
Worcester’s Posse Scholars are:
 
Burncoat High:  Alswell Tulasi – Denison University; Madeline McKenney-Lydick – Denison University; Doherty High:  Tavian Vassar – Bucknell University; Dmone Walker – Centre College; South High:  Ngoc Ngo – Hamilton College; and Worcester Technical: Esmely Munoz – Hamilton College.
 
Worcester Public Schools Featured in Education Week
 
Education Week, a national newspaper covering K – 12 education has published an article highlighting Worcester Public Schools’ successful efforts in turning around its chronically underperforming schools.  The article entitled In School Turnaround Efforts, Massachusetts Enlists Districts features the good work of our staff at Union Hill, Chandler Elementary, Burncoat Elementary and Elm Park Schools in addition to district staff in improving student achievement.
District Business

Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA)
 
2015 Statement of Interest (SOI) Letter
 
The MSBA informed the City Manager that Doherty High School, Burncoat High School and Worcester East Middle School 2015 SOIs will not be invited into the MSBA’s Eligibility Period. 

Did You Know…

Did you know that:
 
�  Over 90 languages are spoken in the Worcester Public Schools?

�  Worcester has the highest percentage (35%) of English Language Learners (ELL) in the state?

�  Our ELLs graduate at a significant higher rate than the state? Four year graduation cohort: WPS 75.8%  –  MA 63.9%

Upcoming Week’s Events

School Health and Wellness Ambassador Program
Healthy students equal better learners.  That is why we would like to identify one or more parent, staff, nurse, and students from each of the WPS middle and high schools to be part of a school health ambassador team.  Each team will work to promote wellness within their school.  The next meeting will be held Tuesday, January 19th at 3pm at Doherty High.  For more information or to join, please contact Carol Manning at 508-799-3075