I noticed that Mayor Mitchell’s campaign ad on Monday, October 12, 2015, did not include New Bedford Public Schools of which he is the ex-officio of the School Committee. Why?
In 2011 when he was first campaigning for the office of mayor, candidate Mitchell kept stating that the school district was in imminent danger of state takeover, that our schools were failing,heading in the wrong direction, and that he was going to change it by being the “Education Mayor.” That was in 2011, let’s fast forward to today and look at our district.
Although this is Mayor Mitchell’s claim, there is no documented DESE credible evidence to support it.
In 2011 the New Bedford Public Schools had two Level 1 schools (top designation), Pacheco and Swift, and two Level 4 schools, Hay-Mac and Parker. Today the district has only oneLevel 1 school, Swift. Pacheco which had been a Level 1 schools for about 10 years is now unfortunately a Level 2 under the leadership of a new principal appointed by Superintendent Pia Durkin. Hay-Mac has remained a Level 4 and, in that time, has not improved sufficiently to be moved to a Level 3. New Bedford High which was a Level 3 slipped to and has remained a Level 4 school under the leadership of Dr. Durkin and Mayor Mitchell. Parker which was a Level 4 school has dropped to a Level 5 status, all under the leadership of our present superintendent and mayor. Instead of improving, our district is going into the tank! Some questions might be: When will Gomes be declared a Level 4? Will Hay-Mac go from a Level 4 to a Level 5? What might happen to the status of the middle schools?
Here are a few things that are not reported in the newspaper or on the radio about the high school. Since Mayor Mitchell has taken office the enrollment at the high schools has decreased by approximately 300 students. For the academic 2012-13 year the enrollment dropped by 38 students, an increase of 7 for the 2013-14 year, and a major drop in the 2014-15 school year of 272 students. Today only a handful of students from Acushnet attend the high school which has resulted in a loss of revenuefrom the town of Acushnet. Acushnet students have their choice of attending New Bedford High School, Fairhaven High School, Old Colony High School, and Bristol Aggie. Fairhaven High, Old Colony High, and Bristol Aggie are all Level 1 schoolswhich is the best rating for a school district.
The high school last year and this year have a number of unfilled teaching positions. Some of the positions last year were never filled. For every unfilled position, multiply the teaching position by 4 or 5 classes depending on the assignment and to that multiply the number of students per class. Example: 2 unfilled positions, equal 8 to 10 classes, let’s say 20 students per class equals 160 to 200 students not receiving a quality educational experience in that subject area. It is my understanding that three teachers have recently resigned from the high school. Students are being short changed and hurt academically. Will they receive the necessary skills for a job? Will they have the academic background for classes in college? How will they fair on PARCC or MCAS? Will some of these students get discouraged and give up or quit school?
In the past two years according to the Personnel Reports, approximately 250 teachers have either retired or resigned from the district which is a huge number in a very short period of time. How is this impacting the quality of education our students are receiving? This number does not include the teachers who were RIF (reduction in workforce) or the ones who lost their job when they had to reapply for their position when their school went to a Level 4 or 5 status.
Recently we have heard that the AP (Advanced Placement) classes have doubled in enrollment. What has not been emphasized is that more than 60 percent of the New Bedford High students who took the nationwide AP test failed the test. Might these students have been misplaced? Did the students give up with the rigors of the AP course? Did these students seek extra help in the class?
Check out the data from the district’s Report Card found on the Mass. DESE’s website. You will notice that all the MCAS results have flat-lined and are well below the state’s average. Also check out the high school’s Report Card for 2014 from the DESE’s website.
All the information stated here can be found by researching and navigating the Mass. DESE’s website and the Personnel Reports found on the NBEA’s website. The data from the DESE indicates that our district is making very little, if any, progress.
Do you think we are better off today than in 2011? My answer is “NO” just based on the MCAS scores, AP test scores, the massive number of teachers who have left the district by resigning and retiring, the number of unfilled teaching positions some of which were unfilled for the entire 2014-15 school year, and the number of principals and assistant principals who have left.