Member of the reality-based community of progressive (not anonymous) Massachusetts blogs
Our frugal neighbors in Dracut will need some convincing.
Update:Thank you for the support! As a graduate of Greater Lowell Class of 1984 I took special interest in this project. I was recently elected to the school committee and I have a son that is a sophomore in Auto Tech. This is a great school and after forty years it needs a face lift. We are having an information session Saturday December 1st from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm at the Dracut Library. Please stop by and say hello. Again thank you for your support.
Rene (Butch) Dion
Chairman - Friends of GLTHS
If interested in buying or distributing tickets, you can contact Butch Dion, Chairman Friends of GLTHS at 508-735-5150 cell. Or e-mail: email@example.com
All are invited to come. You can show up at door if you don’t have a ticket. You can mail a donation if you can’t make it that night.
Friends of GLTHS
52 Concord Road
Dracut MA 01826
Please make checks out to “Friends of GLTHS.” Any amount certainly would be appreciated.
Check out the website: Friends of GLTHS
PS. Please don’t let my recent series of diaries cast an overwhelming shadow on the good occuring out there at GLTHS. We should be mindful of the future, at all times. My focus on the past is intended to help set a proper course, forward. Improving the “physical plant” at the school will help foster better education and burnish the potential of the young adults that attend. - Jack
While Gerry Nutter is taking the cautious route, others are more forthright in claiming that Supt. Mary Jo Santoro’s claims of “gender harrassment” are not genuine.
I, by training, am very ‘process oriented.’ Thus, I tend to favor Nutter’s suggested approach. However, I have noted that Santoro’s claim, gives her a legal action timeline that directly overlays on top of the period in which her potential new contract negotiations would play out. However, if I was to just play along with the more blunt voices out there in the bubble, I would point this out.
Santoro ‘tried to walk the tightrope’ on GL Tech probe disclosure
1/21/12 - Evan Lips,
“I tried to walk the tightrope regarding the right to privacy and the people’s need to know,” Santoro said in an interview at the school Wednesday. “I probably would have encouraged individuals on the School Committee to more aggressively speak to the chairman (Mike Lenzi).”
Santoro said she was advised by legal counsel to only disclose the information to Lenzi.
Not once did Santoro refer to the employee by name, citing laws governing personnel records. She acknowledged that the circumstances made it appear to the public that the school was purposely hiding the employee’s identity, but added that she would treat “any other employee in this building with the same respect.”
“The people who spent the last six months getting a name published may very possibly have ruined her life,” Santoro said. “Whoever you got that name from, I hope that person doesn’t have to deal with a liability problem.”
Folks, we have a problem out at GLTHS, only we can fix. The way this will happen is if you understand the problem and how it came to be. If I can convince you that my perspective is the most correct, then YOU must act. This problem stems from a failure of elected government, so only you, as a collective force of engaged citizens, can solve it. If you don’t, the problem will persist.
My plan is to write a series of diaries that will lay it all bare. If you are persuaded by my argument, then I’m asking you to call or write as many of the GLTHS School Committee members, as you see fit. Their contact info is here. Of the committee, there are currently two members that need to hear from us the most, Ray Boutin (Lowell) and Paul Morin (Dracut).
Let’s go back to Jan. 2010. From the Blog of Record:
“Superintendent James Cassin recently received an exceptional performance evaluation from the School Committee, yet there are ongoing issues of teachers working without certification, different standards enforced for different employees, bloated salaries and continuing allegations of nepotism and cronyism.”
(h/t Mimi) (more…)
Yes, the process over filling a vacant seat at GLTHS is a bit shady. Let there be light? I’m intrigued.
Mayor Patrick Murphy, who also chairs the School Committee, said he was approached by Krieger, Boutin, Montoya and Hogan about their interest in the seat. Murphy said if Lenzi resigns, he would like to have an interview process for the candidates.
“When the time does come, if it does come, there ought to be a clear process in place so that it doesn’t just become the people who lobby the hardest get the most votes,” said Murphy.
“We’ll get a better sense of what people’s vision is for that school and what their background is. It’s fairer for the public and it’s not just a backroom lobbying deal,”he added.
I envision a process very similar to the last phase of the last Lowell Public Schools Superintendent search process. The “finalists” will be interviewed in the Council Chamber by those with voting authority, which is the combined membership of the City Council and School Committee. This would happen under the public eye, with LTC present. The final vote and choice would be informed by the process.
The premise rests on a fundamental principle of Mayor Murphy, performance based governance. The candidates would be judged on tangible policy points and presentation. It would be merit based. It’s a “job interview.” We get it.
If you find me pulling my punches in my blogging, it is because I have hope. Hope that the “intended ” will get the message and shift course. Or, at a minimum, take it under advisement. When I come heavy, I feel like I’m dealing with a lost cause.
Of course, to some, a nudge is as good as a full assault. If you cast a shadow on their political halo, they react like your motive is to undo them. Such hyperbole normally betrays the weak mind of the thin skinned. So, should you hear a Councilor going on about how I have “hate” in my heart, please disregard the lobby. This sort of talk is used as a wedge. It intends to force a descision, are you “with Jack” or not? It is meant to threaten you. That you will be shunned, should you entertain the cruel blogger.
You wanna see cruel?
The Lawrence Public Schools system is a mess:
Chester said that while there will be immediate changes, the state expects the plan to take several years to fully take effect.
“This is not a proposition that’s gonna play out over two or three years,” he said. “We’re here for four, five, six years before we expect to turn around results as strongly as we’ve set forward.”
A 2011 district report described “a troubled school district with chronic under-performance … a district where leadership and governance are flagging,” according to education officials.
Lowell Public Schools are in much better shape. However, Kendall Wallace is still concerned.
What the state is doing in Lawrence should be seen as a serious warning to local school administrators, school unions and school committees. They either need to get it right or lose control.
If teacher unions remain adamant in thinking dramatic changes in hours, tenure issues, salary issues are not acceptable, they will find the day is near when the state takeover of the system is real.
I am concerned, too. Likely for very similar reasons. What Mr. Wallace reveals in a round about way, I’ll be more direct. I don’t imagine I have the ultimate answer. Actually, I’ll present more questions than answers. That is because, as I wander in the bubble, the incessant finger pointing and back stabbing lends to the identification of weaknesses and problems. Thus, a bold drive to solutions is conspicuously absent. So, below, I’ll flesh out some shortcomings. Then, as we who “row well and live”, collectively cross our fingers and hope those with their hands on the rudder will steer us well.
EDIT: In regards to signing the open letter as per the end of this post, they say they are having trouble with their website so if you want to be sure your signature gets on their list, send an email with full name and city to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Update II: Also, see bottom of post for a video from Citizens for Public Schools, one of the orgs fighting the ballot initiative.
I don’t know if you even know who Stand for Children is. Some of you reading, however, will. I was approached by Stand via trusted local officials when they were trying to get a regional organizing group started up here. They’d hired someone to start talking and organizing up here and after coffee with them, and a long conversation, it seemed good, it came through a very trusted source, and so I signed up for small recurring donations.
This was a number of years ago, before Stand for Children turned into what appears to be a vampire.
Stand for Children has a long history, going back into the early 90s, about working on improving education for all, especially for the poor. What happened to them is nothing less than literally, the life being sucked out of its carotid artery, exchanged for diseased blood, so that the organization could rise again, faster, stronger, and ready to devour the very people it once fought to protect.
Now, they are Scott-Walkering our state with a ballot initiative, trying not only to destroy teachers unions and public schools with “reform” that we know won’t solve anything, but doing it on the backs of the stellar reputations of the state’s education advocacy groups, elected officials, and individuals. Including this blog, and myself.
But now the wheels are coming off the bus, so to speak. You might have remembered Jack’s post from October 2011 where he talks about Stand and the ballot initiative they want to foist on our state. (There are some really, really excellent comments on that post. Go read it. Also read this article linked in comments by pablo, about the funding shift and Stand’s about-face.)
There is a LOT more after the flip. (more…)
In case you needed a reason to feel superior, here’s an article in Slate touting why Massachusetts is one of the best states to live and work in. Because by the numbers, we stack up really well. Even to the rest of the world.
Did you know that Massachusetts ranks lowest on traffic fatality rates (yeah, I know!)? That our kids are the best in the nation in math and reading in fourth and eighth grade tests. We rank fifth and ninth on reading and math worldwide. We have the lowest divorce rate in the country (despite all them gays that get to marry, it didn’t bring the end of marriage as we know it). Our unemployment is nearly 2 points below the national average, and the third highest in the world on worker productivity. We have some of the best technology stats out there.
We also “recently displaced California as the nation’s most energy-efficient state.” Take that, you West Coasters!
Of course, we’re not perfect, and there’s plenty to work on in government, business, and society as a whole, but you should be proud as hell to be a Bay Stater. I know I am.
Everything you ever thought you knew about politics could be turned upside down!
Head over to Gerry Nutter’s Lowell. He has proposed so many scenarios, something he said has gotta be correct.
After listening to their arguments, I have to agree with the teachers. Their Union is being targeted. The question is by who and why? It doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense that a democratic operative who supports many candidates that the Union also backs would on his own try to do this or is he trying to lay some political capital of his own?
Why is it that only the UTL here in Lowell is being called on to negotiate in public?
Here is a crumb trail:
Can Lowell’s School Committee Do This?
Transparency in Union Bargaining
Charter Schools - Odds and Ends
Molloy P loy Backfires
Lashing The Leak *Bubble Alert*
Open Thread: Wolf In Sheep’s Clothing Edition
Muddying the Waters Unethically
It’s not personal.
This is happening outside of Lowell.
The School Committee depends on Union voters to get elected.(9,946) The City Manager does not. Scratch City-side Unions off the list.
The Teacher’s contract is the template that most all others follow. It is the “flagship” contract.
Comment on Gerry’s blog, please.
Too big to bargain?
Public sentiment strongly favors union negotiations to be held in the open, with the terms disclosed to the public. During campaign season, candidates ensure the voters that they will push for more transparency. Yet, nothing happens.
Things are starting to happen around Lowell. Now is the time for the Lowell School Committee to force the issue.
DRACUT — Contract talks between the Dracut Teachers Association and School Committee were derailed last week when the School Committee asked to hold future bargaining sessions with the DTA in public, according to representatives from both sides.
At a scheduled bargaining session between the teachers union and School Committee held Tuesday at the central school offices on Lakeview Avenue, the School Committee’s attorney, Ed Morris, made a request “to enter conversation with the DTA to ask to have the negotiations go public,” said Dracut Teachers Association President Linda Dugan.
I’m going to give Dracut an “A” for sentiment, but a “D” for tactics. This attempt is flawed, as the School Committee has already begun negotiations. The “ground rules” are already established.
Westford School Committee tried it another way:
The School Committee has repeatedly been asked to supply the public with details of our negotiations with the teachers union. During the course of formal negotiations the sharing of negotiation details with the public about the offers was prohibited. After formal negotiations ended, the committee accepted the advice of the state mediator from the Division of Labor Relations, not to disclose the details of the offers over the course of the mediation with the Westford Education Association as the best process to reach an agreement. On Feb. 28, 2012, an agreement on the terms of a successor contract was reached with the negotiating team authorized to represent the teachers. This agreement was rejected by the teachers union members at a ratification vote on March 16, 2012. Therefore, in an effort to inform, we have put together the following explanation of the agreement reached on Feb. 28, including requests made by the teachers’ negotiating team that were not agreed to.
I like Westford’s approach better. This School Committee leveled the awareness of the public. Considering that the rank and file of the Westford teachers union knew the details, why should the general public not?
Ultimately, these matters need to be worked out when the negotiation ground rules are set. Transparency must be ensured before the negotiating parties begin to bargain.
If the Unions refuse ….. ? Well, they just got 3% and the sunset provision allows them to ride that for a good long time. At some point, they’ll come back. We have to give the School Committee the fortitude to be firm on this point.
This won’t be easy, folks. As voter turnout dwindles, union votes will be coveted by shallow candidates.
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