Two years ago there was a petition circulating begging the state to take over the Southbridge School District.
I was opposed to it then.
Circumstances have changed.
Performance results as measured by MCAS have essentially stagnated.
School choice has become a million dollar stone around taxpayer’s necks.
Unemployment insurance costs have become an additional millstone. Many of those actions have subsequently been judged to have been unjustified, resulting in additional costs. In the meantime administrative and teaching positions have become a revolving door.
In the meantime the school committee has become increasingly insulated and isolated.
Like a majority of the community I supported McLoughlin and Donovan when they ran for the committee. I publicly endorsed their candidacies.
I thought that they were bright prospects who would keep their heads down and learn the ropes.
I was wrong.
They have proven themselves to be ego-driven martinets whose control issues outweigh any ability to grasp their appropriate roles. They shield their ignorance with bluster, pandering and political maneuvering while the district burns.
Simultaneously the public has become increasingly accepting of this state of affairs.
The public input portion of school committee meetings has become virtually devoid of any criticism.
To a large extent that is the result of three factors – the co-optation of the former loudest critics of the system (special ed. parents), the silence of one of the largest populations – Hispanics, and the migration of those lucky enough to have an option through school choice.
All of these elements overshadow the negative consequences of State receivership I had previously cited.
Simply put, it is time for the State to step in and take over.
It’s experience in doing so to the benefit of a district was recently cited in an article in the Worcester Telegram:
Mr. Chester pointed to Lawrence, the state's first Level 5 district, and Revere for academic strides and for "showing that low performance is not pre-ordained."
"We're very proud of the increases we're seeing in Lawrence," Mr. Chester said, which is in its third year of state receivership. He described it as one of the lowest-performing districts in the state, where three years ago, only half of students were graduating on time and those who did were low performing.
U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan visited Parthum Middle School in Lawrence on Thursday.
Mr. Chester highlighted the work of Superintendent Paul Dakin in Revere, a highly diverse, low-income district that for the first time has no schools below Level 2.
[Worcester Telegram, Saturday, September 20, 2014, “Chandler Elementary rises in MCAS ratings; Elm Park falls”]
The time has come to stop the acceptance of unsatisfactory performance.
The time has come to stop the drain on financial resources.
The time has come to stop hurting our children.
Eliminate the amateurs, bring in the pros.