Tag Archives: Worcester School Committee

Make the summer “daze” learning days!

By John Monfredo, Worcester School Committee member

If I could give every student just three educational gifts, the first one would be a love of reading. The second would be a LIBRARY CARD with a commitment from a parent to take that child to the library as often as possible. The third one would be the gift of reading aloud to that child every single day. Children who are interested readers and interested learners tend to lead successful lives.
If you read my last story on the “SUMMER SLIDE” [ICT, volume 8 issue 23] you will know what research said on this topic. What is the “summer slide?” The summer slide is the decline in reading achievement that children suffer just from being away from school. Parents, remember reading like playing a musical instrument, is not something that is mastered once and for all at a certain age. It is a skill that continues to improve through practice.

Thus, my resolve is to get everyone involved in summer reading. With access to books and reading encouragement, kids can avoid the summer slide. Continue reading Make the summer “daze” learning days!

Putting Heart-Safe program in the “heart” of the Commonwealth

By John Monfredo, Worcester School Committee member

Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) and Automated External Defibrillation (AED) training may be the most valuable lessons a student can learn – how to save the life of a loved one, teacher or friend by performing the simple steps of CPR. This method can double or triple a cardiac arrest victim’s chance of survival.

With this in mind, I proposed to the Worcester School Committee that the Worcester Public Schools start a course in CPR/AED training. With the support of Dr. Leonard Morse, Worcester Commissioner of Public Health, Mr. Derek Brindisi, acting director of public pealth in Worcester, and Colleen O’Brien, director of athletics, health and physical education, a plan was put forth in our schools for the first time. Continue reading Putting Heart-Safe program in the “heart” of the Commonwealth

Obesity: a problem for Worcester’s kids – and the entire nation

By John Monfredo, Worcester School Committee member

Schools must work on having a balance between wellness and academics as we address the needs of our children. With so much emphasis on MCAS scores, wellness has taken a back seat to achievement. The question is: why can’t we do both – academics and wellness? “If our children aren’t healthy, their learning suffers, and research shows that children who eat high sugar, high fat meals may have poorer cognitive skills, higher anxiety levels, and problems with hyperactivity,” stated Jerry Newberry in an article in the NEA magazine.

Let’s look at a health issue that is affecting our children – obesity. For more than four decades, obesity rates in the United States have more than quadrupled among children ages 6 to 11 years, more than tripled among adolescents ages 12 to 19 years and more than doubled among children ages 2 to 5 years, according to the Committee on Prevention of Obesity in Children and Youth. Today, almost one third of the children in this country are either overweight or obese. The percentage of young people who are overweight has tripled over the last 25 years. Preventing obesity during childhood is critical because habits formed during childhood and adolescence frequently persist into adulthood.

Are you concerned yet? Continue reading Obesity: a problem for Worcester’s kids – and the entire nation

T & G’s Clive McFarlane: hypocrite extraordinaire!

By Rosalie Tirella

Well, I hope pin-head Telegram & Gazette columnist Clive McFarlane is feeling guilty. 

Several months ago, when the Worcester School Committee was voting on the new school superintendent, school committee member Dottie Hargrove put her vote behind school superintendent candidate Melinda J. Boone, who hails from Norfolk, VA. By doing so, the wonderfully sunny and INTELLIGENT Dottie Hargrove made way for the city’s first African American/female school superintendent and put an end to the serious nepotism that parades as hiring practice in the Worcester Publis Schools.

By voting the way she did,  Dottie Hargrove was actually answering the prayers of most Worcesterites. She was saying: It’s not who you know in this town anymore – it’s what you know! By dumping job candidate Steven Mills, the city’s connected-guy, Dottie, along with the majority of the school committee, was saying this LOUD AND CLEAR to Mills and most important the parents and students of Worcester: a new day is dawning in Worcester.

But Mills was/is deaf. In a story about his desire to be the next Worcester school superintendent, he made it a point to flaunt the fact that he worked on Lt. Gov. Tim Murray’s political campaigns – as if that would instantly make him school superintendent of Worcester.  What a stupid – but telling – thing for Mills – the toady! – to say to a reporter!

The real questions on Worcester parents’/residents’ minds: Did Mills have enough experience? Was he smart enough to handle the work load? Could he do the job? Most people wanted answers to those questions and didn’t give a damn if Mills is palsy walsy with Murray.

And the majority of Worcester School Committee members wanted answers to those questions, too. And when they got the answers – based on a non-partisan, super-intelligent search committee who reviewed all candidate resumes, interviewed all candidates, etc and recommended Boone for the job – it was a new dawn for Worcester!

You would think Clive McFarlane, a Black of Jamaican descent, would have been celebrating with the rest of us. After all, he was on the receiving end of affirmative action policies when it came to getting his metro columnist job at the T & G.

Years ago,  Clive would most likely have not gotten his plum job because the old T & G was so clubby. Thanks to places like the MLK Center on Dewey street, whose director Robert Thomas told me several years ago that he had to “point a gun” to then T & G publisher’s Bruce Bennett’s head to get him to hire an Asian American for a job at the T & G, things have changed at the T & G (well, slightly).  Thomas told me Bennett said to him something like: you know how I feel about affirmative action, Robert. Well, dink-puss Bennett got his arm twisted by Thomas and he relented and hired the Asian American guy – who worked out wonderfully. Bennett is gone – and actually right after a reminder from InCity Times that there are NO reporters of color at the T & G, Bennett gave McFarlane the job and when he was retiring from the T & G said he was glad of his affirmative action (Clive as metro columnist) hires.

So how stupid of Clive McFarlane – a product of affirmative action, a system whose goal is to destroy the old white boys’  club –  to defend the skewed hiring practices of the Worcester Public School System – a system that most likely would have kept him out of any teaching job. 

Clive beat Dottie up in his column last winter – making her seem spacy, as if she didn’t know what she was doing and thus ruined the W.P. Schools for everyone! For two columns Clive dumped on Dottie, intimating that she was putting an end to a long, grand, proud Worcester teaching tradition.  Clive said even though the WPS system was clubby, the WPS had great teachers and our school system was excellent. So what if it was a teeny bit … corrupt? he seemed to be saying.  Clive was for the status quo – a status quo that doesn’t give two shits for him.

But I ask: How can you have an excellent school system when you have most of our schools without any black/Lationo teachers while our schools are filled with a majority of minority students?

So in has last Dottie Hargrove column ( a week or so ago)  the idiot Clive threw Dottie a bone: Yes! Dottie was passionate about inner-city kids and their education! No one was more passionate about these kids!

Unlike you, asshole!

Because if you were, Clive,  you would have known that Dottie was on the poor minority kids’ side all along! That she had a ton of love for the kids in our schools – was a reading teacher for many years in our school system, is a professor now – teaching college students how to be effective teachers.

If only you had interviewed her, Clive-o, and given her a fair shake!

And that’s no jive.

Putting the skids on “The Summer Slide”

By John Monfredo, Worcester School Committee member

Summer slide! It sounds like a new ride at Six Flags or Coco Keys. Unfortunately, it is the gradual erosion of the academic skills students gained during the school year over the summer. Thoughts of math, science and reading are replaced by swimming, hanging out with friends, playing video games and going to the beach. In the case of those students with limited English skills, many lose their newly acquired words. Often, it is the students who can least afford to lose the reading gains they’ve achieved during the school year who fall the farthest behind when they return to the classroom after a summer vacation.

One of the initiatives my wife, Anne Marie and I have put together to prevent student’s falling behind is the “Worcester: the City that Reads” Committee, a committee whose goal is to address the needs of literacy in the city. One of our programs has been to collect recreational reading books and put them into the hands of our children. Already we have collected over 20,000 books for our children. This will enable children from lower socio-economic back-ground to have access to books. It is the lack of books in the child’s home that poses the greatest barrier to achieving literacy. We hope to put those books into the hands of the children in the Worcester Public Schools during the week of June 7th -as we celebrate “Literacy Week in our Community.”

A recent study by Johns Hopkins University adds to the mounting evidence of the “Summer Slide.” Poor students start out behind middle-class students and fall behind each year. Most of that loss occurs when school is out. Continue reading Putting the skids on “The Summer Slide”