I am disappointed in the mayor’s testimony yesterday. The School Committee and community alike expressed hesitance to adopt the “innovation zone” concept, which has not shown results in Springfield and offers nothing we couldn’t do ourselves. I’m proud of the process New Bedford chose to use instead in redesigning our middle schools.
We didn’t accomplish middle school redesign by exerting leverage over the teachers’ union. We worked collaboratively with teachers at the three middle schools and empowered them to work with their administrators to design tailor-made plans for their individual schools and school communities. The plans created for all three schools are not just compelling, but I would argue are better and more likely to meet success than any plan generated by a “zone.”
I appreciate the hard work of the school staff that participated in the redesign process and can’t wait to see what results are in store. Obviously, people are watching New Bedford to see how it works out. I would suggest that communities interested in an innovation zone check out our model instead, and that those on the Joint Education Committee dismiss any legislation that forces innovation zones as solutions to problems better solved through collaboration.
Josh Amaral is a member of the New Bedford School Committee.