5 thoughts on “Jack Spillane: Voc-Tech skims highest-achieving students away from New Bedford High

  1. Let me first start off by explaining why I choose to remain anonymous. I am a former teacher in New Bedford and have had the fortunate opportunity to be working in another district where they treat their teachers with respect. I also come from a long line of Voc Tech graduates so I take great offense to some of the statements made in this column. I will have to write this in two posts because I have a lot to say.First:I will agree that Voc Tech has become one of the best high schools in this area. They offer hands-on experiences that New Bedford High doesn't offer. Their academics are either outperforming neighboring schools or keeping up with them. Yet, people like Jack Spillane continue to discredit Voc. “There was a time when the best and brightest students in any public school district went to the academic high school and the vocational high schools specialized in students who had difficulty succeeding in college courses, for one reason or another.”Mr. Spillane, I don't know where you live but Voc Tech has not been a school for the students who struggled in college courses. Do your research like a journalist should do before you print such outlandish statements. Do you know that in the past, Voc Tech graduates have been accepted to highly accredited colleges such as Brown University? Students are taking the knowledge they are gaining from Voc Tech and walking into COLLEGE classes and putting students who came from the public school district to shame because of the knowledge they have before their courses even start. Where do they gain this knowledge? I think you know the answer to that. I have family members that graduated over 25 years ago who went on to college and became Nurses. Yes, nurses. One statement I take great offense too and I know many people find highly insulting is this:”The kid who was a grease monkey or was good at taking apart things with his hands could get a practical education at the local vocational school, and apprenticeship training that would land him or her a living wage job.”How dear you call an AUTOMOTIVE TECHNICIAN a grease monkey. That profession you have insulted put myself and my sisters through college, kept a roof over my head, and paid for many things throughout my life. He graduated from Voc himself and became a highly respectable teacher of that profession. How dear you insult people in that manner. It takes highly skilled and intelligent people to work in a field that is constantly changing and evolving due to the advancement of technology. He graduated from Voc over 40 years ago. Can you diagnose what is wrong with your car when something breaks down? Probably not. In a day and age where people are always afraid of not being politically correct, you sure went left with that comment. The term grease monkey is as insulting as calling a police officer a “pig”. I teach my students all the time about word choice and how important it is to use correct word choice as to not insult people. Maybe you should sit in on a class or two about it.

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  2. Second:The last part of my frustration is how you and the Mayor believe that the well behaved, high achievers should not be given a spot in Voc but it should go to students who decide to not do well in school, get in trouble, or speak another language. I raise my children with a mind set that you work for what you get. You earn what you have in life. That means if you want to EARN a spot at Voc then you have to keep your grades up and behave. Charter Schools use the lottery system but how do you know they aren't screening who's coming in? Trust me they are. Charter schools also have the choice of kicking kids back to public schools if they aren't towing the line. New Bedford High removes students as well who don't tow the line because they are sent to the alternative school in the district. Not really that different from what charter schools and Voc does. As far as the English Language Learners, the state is putting into place programs for them to be successful in school with academics not just a trade. Have you been to the doctors lately? Last time I checked, there are lots of doctors whose first language is not English and they are pretty successful at what they do. They don't have to only attend a vocational school to be successful. Mr. Mayor, you love to jump on band wagons. In one article a while back you were praising Voc and how well they doing. Now, you are jumping on the bandwagon about how they need to change how they accept students. Pick a side and stick to it.You want Voc to change how they accept students to once again accommodate the students who are not “academically inclined” and return above average students to a high school ( New Bedford High) they don't want to attend. How is that fair? Why does the average to above average student have to lose out to students who simply don't care enough about their education to tow the line?Voc Tech has an extremely diverse student body. They have whites, blacks, hispanics, ELLs, special needs students, athletes, scholars, and the list could go on. Does Fairhaven High have that diversity? How about Dartmouth High? Those are the other feeder schools to Voc. Why does Voc Tech have to be the ultimate diverse school in the city?Instead of bashing Voc, let's look at why children are choosing Voc over the other schools. I think we all know why they don't want to go to New Bedford High. Let's put the energy into making New Bedford High a place where students are put on a waiting list to attend. Make it the great school it once was. Lastly, opportunity is also about choices. Kids need to understand that life is about just that, choices. Good choice lead to good things and bad choices lead to bad things. Opportunity is not a handout but a privilege we have in this world.

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