Resolution urges support for Holyoke

Holyoke is on the brink of becoming the second school district in Massachusetts to be taken over by the state – a step that would be drastic and disruptive.

If educators and other residents of communities across our Commonwealth do not take action right away, the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education will probably approve Education Commissioner Mitchell Chester’s recommendation and vote on a “Level 5” designation for Holyoke as early as April 28.

Such a designation would do great harm to the community and to Holyoke students and families.

Holyoke residents feel terribly disempowered by Chester’s plan to make major changes in their schools without adequate input from students, parents, educators and local elected officials.

Although the state has never said what changes it will make, the MTA has no reason to believe that the plan will include a primary focus on educating the whole child, reducing the current high-stakes testing regimen, access to culturally relevant pedagogy, increasing preschool programs or adopting other improvements that Holyoke’s students need.

Instead, it will mean an undemocratic takeover that removes local control from the Holyoke Public Schools.

Some in state government would like to see these changes occur across the Commonwealth. An “experiment” in education “reform” in a few districts could become state policy if we don’t act now to protect democratic control of our schools.

We are asking MTA local associations and other community constituencies – especially PTOs, PTAs and school committees – to help us fight this privatization effort right away by approving this resolution.

Please take the resolution to decision-making bodies in your community and let us know of actions taken by e-mailing Ari Mercado, MTA governance assistant, at amercado@massteacher.org.