Thursday, February 11, 2016

Centro community forum on Worcester superintendent search

Present tonight: Mayor Petty, Councilor Rivera, Rep. Donahue, School Committee members Foley and Monfredo, along with parents and other community members. Names cited below if I know them.

Latino students are 44% of WPS students
how can we guarantee that the needs of Latino students are met?
Latino community has a "long history of activism in education"
1970's fight resulted in a consent degree around education of ELL students
1980's resulted in Latino Education Institute to close the achievement gap
history of leadership around education
gathered to make our voices heard
"perhaps not reflected in mainstream institutions"
five sets of values: equity, leadership, access, diversity, community
  • What is the candidate's experience in leading a large urban system?
  • management of disparate systems
  • student discipline in schools? dual language and other opportunities?
  • staffing to reflect community?
  • balance of power with local community? involvement of parents and community members?
Councilor Rivera: updating on search process
asks if any school committee members can let people know where they are right now?
Monfredo: applications were sent out yesterday
due on February 23
three finalists selected March 3
applications posted on March 4
March 14-16 community meet and greet
March 17 selection of next superintendent

Foley: recommendation back in the fall was for a national search with engagement of the community in a larger process
after election, vote not to have a national search
application limited only to public schools of Worcester
"rather limited search process"
different time table and different process than was proposed back in October
and different than that proposed by Mayor Petty and Foley
Rivera: not a national search, it's internal?
Foley: internal, employee-only search

Rivera: where we are in the process right now

Hilda Ramirez (LEI Institute): 40% of students in WPS are Latino: largest minority
graduation rates went up, our students are graduating, but only 50% that graduate go on to college
difficult ensuring our students get the education that they need
still are suspending Latino male students than any group in the city
even with HR 222, still a challenge for students and families
options: have to keep in mind that our students don't have a clear ladder to other options, over represented in Level 3 high schools
ratio of guidance counselors to students: not getting guidance to go on to college
hiring practices of WPS: huge area that we have to be concerned about
"as we narrow a search...there's great concern whether we're going to have the right candidate in place to continue to move the district forward"
17 year olds enrolling in WPS, will they have enough English to go forward
"understand the data that's driving some of the outcomes in our community"

OPEN FLOOR: for people to suggest questions for candidates or what they're looking for
Q: hooded sweatshirts banned in high schools: brings me back to Travyon Martin case
"kids in hooded sweatshirt might be up to no good"
also, police in our schools? when students of color arrested much more often than white students?
Q from Pastor Jose Encarnacion: domain of community: in light of the need of trust and have community engagement: how are we and any applicants to trust
"arbitrary, exclusive and not inclusive, and disingenuous"
already were members of the school committee encouraging particular people to apply
safeguard to ensure that the
Q from Chris Robarge: internal selection process highly problematic: equal opportunity challenges of this decision
district less than 10% Latino of educators
"looks like we're actually looking at like one or two candidates"
"not best practices"
violation of the spirit, if not the letter, of equal opportunity
Q: relational approach rather than confrontational one
Rivera: would like to see community engagement piece: to be insistent that whomever comes in has a strong piece on community relations
"to come in and be part of conversations as we move forward"
"that we have a seat at that decision making table and that our voices are heard"
Q: too late to have a forum when they're selecting someone for March
"hopefully the questions that we have will be brought to the selection committee...but it seems almost too late"
Petty: "it is sort of a closed process"
"there's nothing, not matter who the superintendent is, there's nothing that can't be done in this report"
"as the mayor, I'm committed to doing everything on this report"
Q: how can we pick from that same leadership to have that same leader, if the current leadership hasn't worked for Latino students?
Q: our kids need to be coming to school ready to learn
Q from Joe Corazzi: a little dismayed by what is an obvious shift on school committee
thinking back to a meeting three years ago around wraparound services
mentioned specifically Union Hill and Chandler
has to be an understanding and acknowledgement that those who feel that way don't represent larger community
that people of color and people are low income can be heard
"for me, to see that a $200,000 job is going to be handed to somebody's best friend, that's frustrating"
"so people don't just hand a job to folks that they like"
"what are the pieces that make up a strong leader"
Q from Juan Gomez: share frustration of job being handed to a friend or a friend of a friend of a decision maker
most important job in our community
54% or more are kids of color
"and you're telling me that we can't open the process to a number of candidates who live in our city simply because they don't work in the Worcester Public School system"
"I would urge the rest of the decision makers on the school expand that search"
"when there is an election and 'to the winner goes the spoils' that's failed public policy"
Q: how can limited search be justified...that there's going to be unfortunately candidates that are not going to be able to apply...urging the School Committee to consider that
"is it possible for this process to be interrupted internally?"
Petty: "I'm one vote on the School Committee...we took the vote, and we lost"
"The School Committee could change the process"
committed to putting together a task force to look holistically at the system
"I understand the frustration with the process; you know where I stood on it."
Petty: there is a commitment from the School Committee that if not enough applicants apply for the position, that they'll open the search further
to a Q: there isn't a benchmark for how many is too few
some back and forth here about if we'd get national applicants
Rivera: need to own some responsibility as well on this
"there's not enough of us together"
"well, lesson learned"
"we're going to stick around this table...and mobilize on it as well"
Petty: this community won't survive unless we take care of the Latino community and the communities of color
we have to do that
Q from Juan Gomez: when people talk about trust, this is where it gets very muddled
when communities of color aren't participants in this process, the message is the same
and end

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