, Salem, MA


May 26, 2014

Letter: Alternatives for Bentley School weren’t considered

To the editor:

It is unfortunate that Mayor Driscoll and the Salem School Committee, with the exception of Mr. Walsh and Mr. Fleming, haven’t come to the realization that collaboration always trumps conflict. Their lack of support regarding the takeover of the Bentley School by Blueprint Schools Network is a perfect example of their unwillingness (stubbornness?) to explore all avenues to improve student achievement in Salem.

Their actions, instead of addressing the inequalities, diversity and language barriers of the Bentley population, sent a loud and clear message to all Salem families and teachers. Mayor Driscoll and her supporters on the committee are not interested in solving the real issues impeding progress at the Bentley. They would rather hand over the reins to a private company with no track record of success and no vested interest in the community or its students.

It appears Mayor Driscoll has completely changed her views on her city’s educational system since her reply to Lisa Peterson explaining the district’s test scores. This article, “43 Questions to Ask Before Picking a New Town,” appeared on May 3, 2014, in the New York Times. The mayor responded to that question with the explanation that “average scores were not likely to rise much because of the community’s commitment to diversity and to teaching students for whom English is a second language. Any individual child’s education, however, wasn’t necessarily reflected in averages,” wrote the mayor. Her recent actions certainly do not echo those sentiments.

Their actions and lack of support for the Bentley staff is part of the current social movement led by the likes of Mitchell Chester, Arnie Duncan, the Koch brothers, ALECC and other millionaires who feel they have a greater understanding of the educational needs of public school children across the country. These groups purposely exclude the educators who work with our students on a daily basis. The experts, the teachers, have no input as to curriculum or the other issues both inside and outside the classroom that impede the academic advancement of today’s children.

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