By Rosalie Tirella
Hoping the new Worcester School Commitee is serious about hiring more minority teachers for our public schools. Squeezed-out Worcester Public Schools Superintendent Maureen Binenda gave the idea lip service. Nothing more. A product of the good old Irish boys Worcester political network, a system rife with nepotism, Binenda was thrown under the bus by the present Worcester School Committee, her boss, after the Worcester School Committee/City of Worcester was face to face with a lawsuit demanding district representation, a way to bring more minorities and poor people into the school committee mix.
The City’s inequitable at-large system kept our school committee white and West Side. District representation on the Worcester School Committee is gonna finally happen – or else embarrassing, expensive court time. A blood bath for all. By voting to hire a new WPS school superintendent who most likely will be a person of color or, at the very least, not be one of the city’s good ol’ boys or gals, Worcester’s self-dealing political machine hopes to placate the local NAACP and the city’s growing number of minority leaders – and save individual political skins.
All this after the Worcester School Committee voted AGAINST district representation several years ago – to save their seats on the school committee. No one wants to relinquish power and dough $$$. It takes a fight. In this case it took the threat of a very ugly, very public lawsuit by Worcester minority leaders for the city’s political machine to finally capitulate: dump Maureen Binenda, make district representation on the school committee a reality – and HIRE MINORITY TEACHERS for a minority-majority school district: the Worcester Public Schools.
None of this will make our public schools much stronger. Decades ago I was a substitute teacher in the Hartford Public Schools, a majority-minority school district, staffed by mostly Black teachers and school principals – a school system in state receivership. It was one of the poorest and neediest school districts in the country. Most of the teachers, my colleagues, were excellent: smart, super-educated, professional, good people who came to school every day to make a difference. They welcomed me, a young white woman, into their school and treated me with grace and kindness. … But they couldn’t erase the extreme poverty, family dysfunction of their students. They were up against it all because Hartford’s public schools students and families were up against it all. The same will happen with Worcester. Still, it’s important that Worcester’s political leaders and public servants are reflective of the city they serve … And that Worcester keeps striving to be open to all people via jobs, housing, education and more. That’s how a city evolves into something better …