Tuesday, June 18, 2019

It must be something in the water.

We seem to be on a bit of a streak of "I have a great idea about the Worcester Public Schools!" op-eds in the Worcester Telegram and Gazette lately.
  • Last week, we had another of the periodic "maybe we shouldn't elect our School Committee" op-eds, this one from Roberta Schaefer, who, it is wise to remember, is a former member of the state Board of Ed. I thought this might be a review of the actual data on elected versus appointed schools boards; there isn't a lot, but what there is largely has found there doesn't appear to be a correlation between how school boards get their positions and student achievement, at least on test scores. However, this never argued for an appointed school committee at all, instead spending attention only on charter schools in New York City and in Boston, none of which resemble Worcester in size, demographics, or public access. No evidence is given to support the thesis of the piece.
  • Later in the week, we had another reappearance, this of the proposal that the regional transit authority and the school transportation should be a single unit. This proposal that the transit authority somehow can serve the public schools' population reappears with enough frequency that I have this post from (budget season) of 2017 on my quick find list. It's abundantly clear that many who suggest this and parallel ideas have little information about how much the Worcester Public Schools' buses do and how difficult it is to navigate the city with timeliness if one is dependant on public transit. Also, public transit systems that are federally funded can't compete with private contractors for public school bus service. 
  • Finally, on Sunday, we saw this proposal to put the new Doherty High on (in?) Foley Stadium. There seems, within the piece, to be some confusion over if it is good or bad to be next to a park (good for Tech, bad for Doherty unless it moves?), how much acreage is enough (the suburbs have more, Doherty has 20, but Foley has 12?), and the presence in the city of Worcester of schools other than Tech and Doherty (North is very new, South is being built). The main concern of the piece in fact appears to be the suggestion that Doherty students might be moved to the current South while a new Doherty is constructed; we are warned that would be an "unwelcome development," there would be "political ramifications," and it would have a "negative impact" with no details given. One should also note, of course, that the land across the street from Foley Stadium is Beaver Brook Park, named for the brook that runs through it, and then runs under the street...and under Foley Stadium. 

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