As predicted, the Haverhill Teachers Association has voted to kill the Silver Hill Horace Mann Charter School.
HAVERHILL — Tensions between a group of parents and teachers at Silver Hill Horace Mann Charter School and the Haverhill Education Association came to a head on Thursday when teachers across the district voted against allowing the school to apply for a renewal of its charter.
Members of the Haverhill Education Association voted 246-114 on Thursday to reject the Silver Hill Horace Mann Charter School’s renewal application.
The school’s charter comes up for renewal every five years. In past renewals, only teachers at Silver Hill voted. But this year, HEA President Lisa Begley, after consulting with state education officials and the Massachusetts Teachers Association, ordered a vote among all the district’s teachers.
And the only one super happy about it today:
Haverhill Teachers Association President Lisa R. Begley.
Because the "voice" of a paraprofessional who teaches at a school across town and never set foot in the Silver Hill should have just as much weight as that of a parent who has made the decision to send their child to the school because it’s WORKING for them.
Because according to teachers unions, that’s how justice works.
Let’s all be clear about what happened here:
A level one school is being closed for no other reason than the name of the school containing the word charter. This is an in-district, Horace Mann charter school subject to oversight by the school committee and union representation. This vote literally does NOTHING to improve anything for the kids in Haverhill all, but does make things WORSE for an entire school full of them.Silver Hill was a FAILING school. Literally not able to teach children how to read, write, do basic math. Forget any of the bells and whistles. School that was literally failing to just cover the basics for the children of Haverhill.The parents of Silver Hill overwhelmingly support keeping the school as a charter.The educators of Silver Hill overwhelmingly support keeping the school as a charter.The community of Silver Hill overwhelmingly supports keeping the school as a charter.We have given teachers the ultimate veto power. It doesn’t matter what families want for their children. It doesn’t matter what taxpayers want for their community. What matters apparently is the opinion of those who in the past have failed the children of Silver Hill until charter intervention was able to turn the school around and turn it into the level one school it has become.
The argument I’ve seen from the teachers union was around "concern" that the school was not serving enough ELL kids. Their solution to overcoming this ONE issue? Closing the school down. Returning it to it’s former failing status. So we can … fill the school with latino children and then offer them a failing education … ?
How about assigning more ELL children to the school?
Having the school district actually assist in recruiting ELL kids to the school?
Actually giving the school the funding for additional ELL teachers AS THEY REQUESTED?
The bottom line is this: RAW POLITICS.
In past years, only the HTA at the Silver Hill were asked to vote on the renewal of the charter. This year, Barbara Madeloni pushed for the local teachers union president to work with their legal team in an effort to expand the number of educators allowed to vote on the school to include every HTA member in the district. So teachers who have NEVER VOTED on the issue in the past and have absolutely nothing to do with the school itself and no interest in the school community were allowed to vote based whatever the hell they felt like.
Parents at Silver Hill believe that the union president, Lisa Begley took advantage of the situation, brought in the legal team of the Massachusetts Teachers Association and worked closely in coordination with the statewide union in order to expand the definition of the "bargaining unit" to it’s largest possible interpretation in order to make a splash with the MTA and springboard herself into an executive committee position and advance herself politically within the union.
So we have built an education system where the people we hire to work in the system are now more powerful than the parents whose children are supposed to be served by it. And we’re all supposed to be ok with that.
My favorite quote from Lisa is this very special one:
"The Horace Mann charter school process was designed to be a democratic one so that the teachers along with residents of the community — represented by their School Committee — would have an opportunity every five years to decide if this model was serving the interests of the community,” said Begley. “In this case, we know that many school and city leaders agreed with teachers throughout the district that it’s time for a change.”
Well how smug. Because we all know that "school committees" in many communities have become little more than rubber stamps for the teachers unions — in fear of political retaliation from union members (often living outside the district) "mobilizing" to influence their elections. What a joke.
The only question left to ask is:
Who is next?
Who will be the next school district forced to kill a level one school to satisfy the local teachers union and score political points?
Can’t wait for Lisa to be elected to the executive board of the MTA so that communities statewide can get a taste of this amazing justice. And don’t worry — there will be more to come about the political cowardice on display by the elected in Haverhill as well. We’re not done here …
What do you think?