The Holyoke Teachers Association is outraged that the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education voted to approve a state takeover of the Holyoke Public Schools. But the HTA remains undeterred in its efforts to work with the broader community to create the schools that Holyoke children deserve.

Holyoke educators find a degree of satisfaction in the fact that the two members of the BESE who actually visited our schools voted against Education Commissioner Mitchell Chester’s recommendation to place Holyoke Public Schools into receivership. Those board members, Mary Ann Stewart and Donald Willyard, questioned the findings of the report that was prepared by Chester’s evaluation team and used as the basis for the takeover.

Holyoke educators also applaud the stand taken by BESE member Ed Doherty, who recognized that collective bargaining rights are a pathway to great schools – not an obstruction to them. He also voted against receivership.

For more than four hours on Monday evening at a public hearing before the vote, the BESE heard from a broad cross-section of parents, students,educators, elected officials and residents who overwhelmingly opposed the state takeover. The people testifying acknowledged the need to ensure that every student is receiving an excellent education and that work needs to be done to achieve that goal. But most expressed faith in the locally governed school system and its educators to meet those challenges.

Chester and the majority of the BESE ignored what they heard and moved on a plan that tramples on democratic principles and rights.

In working with members of the community for the past several months, the HTA has clearly seen that parents and students are hungry for a well-rounded education that includes art, physical education, social studies and a curriculum that reflects the culture of our city. Educators will continue to work toward that vision and to be vocal about our goals.   

Gus Morales
HTA President

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