Members of the New Bedford School Committee and Community, 
     My name is Karla Ayers Tedeschi and I was a 7th grade science teacher at Keith from 2009 until November of 2015. I tendered my resignation on October 22, 2015 and had an exit interview where I described my reasons for leaving: 
1. The unsafe climate for staff and students caused by ineffective and dangerous practices used by the new administration
2. Being asked to lie to parents about the safety of their children in my dangerously overcrowded lab
     I understand that it was reported that I went to a suburban district. In truth, I am working in an urban middle school in Fall River that was described as having “the same population of students as Keith.” I informed them that I loved my students and they had never been the problem.
     The problem lies with an administration that has worked to silence and discredit the parents, teachers, and students. An administration that has to have a PR person to spin their version of reality. Threats of reprisal, secrecy, and half-truths have dominated this once great district. I am here to give a voice to friends and former co-workers too scared to speak. It is time for the fear to end, the lies to stop, and the secrets to come to light.
We need to discuss:
• The fact that the High School has “high Advanced Placement enrollment” however, the school lacks the number of certified AP teachers so our students have low scores and cannot qualify for college credit. This year, there are not enough teachers or subs and some students report to an empty class to receive an “A” just for showing up. Data can be massaged to show improvement, but we are actually failing these students.
• The fact that there is a climate of fear in this district with teachers being color coded as targets for repeated negative evaluations. Teachers designated as “black” need to be removed by the end of the year- regardless of their actual professional abilities.
• The fact that the staff are so devalued that when a new teacher was sexually harassed by a student, telling the teacher “Close your legs, it smells like fish” and then elbowing the teacher in the crotch, the administrator told the teacher that they would have to learn to deal with the student because they were coming right back.
• The fact that administrators are telling teachers that “appearance is everything” apparently above the safety and well-being of the staff and students. When a student smoked synthetic marijuana and passed out in a bathroom, the response of the administrator was to repeatedly yell, “Don’t call the police!” instead of checking on the welfare of the child.
• The fact that a culture of violence has blossomed at Keith in the vacuum created by an impotent and absent administration. Where students threw desks and books at teachers, calling them, “F*ing N-words!” and were returned to class. Where a student was beaten into unconsciousness so badly that they urinated themselves. Where students are terrified to report other students bringing guns into school because nothing is solved- just covered up; no media, no tallies of ambulances, no police reports, no records. So now, teachers know to make triple copies of office referrals and to pass them to the caring SROs and Court Officers because they will not be documented by the administration.
     It is true that “Turn-around isn’t for everyone” but no one exemplifies this more than the administration. “So what? Now what?” fix the administrative incompetence, bullying, and lies that are driving this district into the ground and hurting our children.
Thank you for your attention,
Karla Ayers Tedeschi

14 thoughts on “"The problem lies with an administration that has worked to silence and discredit the parents, teachers and students." – Karla Ayers Tedeschi – March 14, 2016

  1. Taylor Cormier, Phil Paleologis, Bob Unger, and Steve Urbon used their bully pulpits to support Durkin and her policies. They should be quite pleased with themselves.

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  2. why isnt this letter on the front page of the newspaper?excellent speech-you came across much clearer than the mayorloved comment by josh amaral – “id like to visit keith” = hey josh the school year is almost over-you havent gotten by yet?exceptional turnout – need to increase the numbers for the next one.

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  3. Thank you Karla for that honest and inspiring letter….it should be on the front of the newspaper. As much as I would like to believe that maybe the school committee will start listening to teachers because of Cotter, I have my doubts. When Josh Amaral first joined the committee, he claimed to be all for the teachers. A school reached out to him and some city council members for help because of issues at the school, what did they do? Nothing…we came together as a staff and held a meeting with him and city council members but nothing came out of it. I am doubtful that anything will come out of this meeting yesterday but a big cover up. Durkin has been in this district long enough to show results. She has none to show. She has schools that are in their 2nd year of a turnaround because it didn't make enough progress and a high school that isn't fully staffed, regardless of what she and her minions tell you. There are classes with no teachers!!!! As teachers, we have our evaluations that we are held accountable for and if we don't meet our goals (goals that are not created by us, by the way) we will get a needs improvement. What happens when Durkin doesn't meet her goals of her evaluation? She gets an extension of her contract and a raise!!! She is not even offering us a raise, the ones who do ALL the work. She wants to give us 0% for the first year of our new contract and then peanuts after that. She wants to tell the public that any gain for a child is significant and counts but behind closed doors she is ripping teachers apart for not moving kids from needs improvement to proficient, even though the child has made progress throughout the year. This is an environment that is working for teachers? How can we do our job effectively when we don't have the support from administration? The answer: YOU CAN'T!!!!She keeps asking for more money but where is the money actually going??? How many administrators do you really need downtown?? She has all these people helping her do her job and yet there are no results to boast about. She wants to quote data all the time, look at the data for personnel since she came to power. It is amazing how many principals, teachers, and other personnel have “resigned”. Don't believe that they resigned on their own, they are told to resign to save face for themselves as well as Durkin. Our own mayor withdrew his kids from new bedford schools, why??? Our schools are not good enough for his kids?? It is so discouraging to be a teacher here in New Bedford. The school committee needs to open their eyes, not sleep, and do their job the right way. Stop being bullied by Durkin and do what is right for this district: find a new superintendent and get this district back to being one that is productive and one that we can be proud of. Right now, I am embarassed to tell people I work here!!

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  4. This piece belongs on the front page of the standard times ,providence journal and the Boston globe…hope it goes viral and national….

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  5. I was a student at the old keith, around 2000. This is nothing new unfortunately. There were daily fights on the ramps where kids where taken away in ambulances. One student was thrown by another student through the plexi glass windows out the second floor science of wing landing on the roof of another building. One of my teachers was allergic to many things and a group of students got wind of this and sprayed the teacher with perfume repeatedly until she resigned. Students would smoke pot or cigarettes in the back of many classrooms. The school was absolute chaos most of the time. Many students I knew including myself had horrendous anxiety attacks while in this school. Nothing was done week to week. It was over crowded, so much so that you would be late because of the amount students in the halls trying to get to the next class. I don't blame you for resigning… Sounds like little has changed in 15 years.

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  6. This is under Durkin's directives. She wants to look good, doesn't care about the day to day violence and havoc both the good students and the teachers have to deal with. She intimidates and screams at her principals and teachers. Clean house and start at the top!

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  7. I am a former educator in the New Bedford Public Schools. Every word that Karla spoke at the meeting on Monday is the truth! I still have pictures of my arms black and blue, scratched and bitten by students. This was a daily occurrence of my day as an educator. I filed accident reports with added pictures of my injuries, but never heard a word from anyone. Jonathan Carvalho many times was in the school building and witnessed episodes of severe behavioral out Burts by students. There were a few occasions where he assisted teachers and paraprofessionals trying to locate a students who had escaped from their classroom. In addition he's witnessed sudents sliding down from the second floor to the first floor on a banister. When Michael Rock from fun107 has questioned Mr. Carvalho about such episodes and others, his response was to deny that these behaviors are an ongoing issue in the schools in New Bedford. He claims that he was unable to find any such documentation from teachers, administrators or other scool staff. As I stated earlier in my comment, I have filed numerous reports regarding my injuries caused by out of control students and never heard from snyone, not even a written notice. Due to the immense stress that I was working under which was causing me to experience severe anxiety and panic attacks, and under the advice of my doctor I resigned. Teachers are working without the proper resources that is so severely needed. Schools are under staffed. Students are not given not only the academic supports they need, but are also lacking the emotional and psychological support they need. A colleague of mine had several episodes occur in her classroom where a couple of her students attempted to jump out of a window in her classroom. The teaches was not given any additional support in the classroom The students were allowed to return to school two days after this very serious and dangerous episode. Techers are scared to speak the truth as they don't want to lose their jobs. By Karla opening up this dialogue my hope is that the students, teachers, and staff of the New Bedford Public Schools receive the academic, emotional, and psychological supports that is immensely needed to ensure the safety of everyone involved. New Bedford diesn't need a highly paid P.RDirector. Invest his pay on the students.

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  8. I feel the frustration of all NBPS teachers. I have been retired for 6 years now. The violence, inept administrators, disregard for teachers safety and respect by administrators and teachers is nothing new. I worked for a principal whose comment to teachers who were hit or had students use vulgar language directed at them was either 1. What did you do to cause the child to react this way? 2. The child did this because your lessons were not interesting 3. You're the teacher with a license, so handle the problem in your class. When a child committed an offense that would lead to arrest by the SRO, this principal would tell the SRO not to arrest the child. big cover ups have been going on for years! So if more principals have this idea of telling SROs not to do their job, then why are we hiring more SROs? How will this curtail the violence when principal have the SROs hands tied?The has been going on for at least the last fifteen years. We have all reported these incidents to our union. We felt safe talking to Lou, he'd support us and investigate. But again, things were swept under the rug, the same PR spin existed then as it does now without the additional cost of a PR person.How would you like to be in this situation? A teacher simply placed his hand on a students shoulder to guide him back to his seat to get back to work after asking him several times to do so. The student asked for a slip to go to the boys room. Instead of going to the boys room, the student went to the principal and said the teacher hit him. The principal called DSS to report an assault on a student by the teacher. When the caseworker arrived at the school, he went to the teachers class with the principal. The students in the class reported then that the teacher did nothing wrong. After an investigation, the teacher was found innocent but told that because of this “incident” they were on probation for a year. Imagine the mental anguish this teacher suffered due to the incompetence of the administrator. Here in this school, our motto was ” where kids rule!” Kids would kick sinks and toilets out in the boys room. They would watch the camera to see who ran out of the boys room. They were verbally reprimanded and never had to pay for the damages. There were a handful of students who were disruptive on a daily basis. When they were sent to the office they were often sent right back to the classroom where they reported to the entire class, ” the principal said I can't believe the teacher wrote you up for that and ripped up the conduct card in front of the student”. In my particular school the disruptive students were often rewarded with a pizza lunch with the principal. Well this climate only encourages the students to continue disrupting.We will never gain the support of the Standard times since they always side in with the current administrator in charge. They have been bashing teachers for years. What needs to be done is this- at least contact Boston media. the Boston Globe comes to mind. Remember at least ten years ago when the church would squash any reports of priest sexual abuse? They'd put a spin on it and say nothing happened..kind of like NBPS is doing now. Well their reporters were able to break through the lies and intimidation and reveal the real story of priest abuse. I'm Sure they'd do an awesome job revealing the intimidation of staff, neglect of daily violence on teachers and students. Social media is another avenue. Her idea of adding another 11 million to improve the district is another farce. The ONLY WAY TO IMPROVE THE DISTRICT IS TO BRING BACK DISCIPLINE!

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  9. How about this one , you get evaluated and the students act disrespectful. They know they are wrong…I hope. Loud, taking over the teacher and fooling around. Then the administration tells you your lesson was not “rigorous 'enough. That is why these disrespectful kids were acting up. What a farce! They lack discipline both at home and at school! The administration has forgotten when they taught in the classroom. But you know what they say, there is a reason why people go into principal and vice principal jobs, they couldn't handle their classroom! NB is such a joke now. The next generation coming up …all I can say is God help us!

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