Saturday, May 17, 2014

Brockton Layoff Plans to Leave Close to 200 Teachers Jobless

“Budget cutbacks but increased police presence.” -Mos Def, Mathematics

Brockton Public Schools plans to lay off 199 teachers and according to the Superintendent of Schools that is just the first action in a plan to cut costs to the city budget. Brockton residents have not taken the news lightly. Some have even coined the term #BringBackOurTeachers in reference to the kidnapped girls in Nigeria #BringBackOurGirls. It is clear that the weights of the situations do not necessarily match. However, the impact these lay off plans and further actions will have on Brockton Public Schools does not bode well. This amidst a plan to implement a new standardized test for students in the very near future.

Reaching out to a teacher who works for the Brockton Public Schools, the question was posed as to what is their take on the current situation. This is what was relayed:
First off, they hired around 130 new teachers last year, so there was clearly a need. Now they have laid off 199. Along with that, the plan is to increase the walking radius for students in middle school and high school to 2.5 miles and 2 miles for elementary. Now if the city is not as safe as they would like (the mayor's own words) why would you increase walking distance?

Brockton adds around 400 new students or so each year, enough to build a new school every other year and keep them full.

If Brockton is in need of added revenue make sports pay to play like other districts have or cut them. What is more important sports or teachers? 30-40 kids per classroom does not work. Have high school students who drive to school pay for a parking decal, that is another revenue stream, other districts do it now.

There is too much middle management up at central, review the necessary jobs and cut overlapping responsibilities.

Brockton pays $285,000 in homeless transportation each year and that is not just within the city. Students are bussed from Attleboro, Fall River, Taunton and New Bedford, also from surrounding towns of Brockton. You can have those students attend schools in the cities where their shelter is located.

They are thinking of implementing half year courses in middle school and specialist class sizes (gym, health, art, and social studies) will balloon. How can you cut social studies to half year when PARCC (the new standardized test) is going to focus heavily on social studies and reading (words from my department head about what PARCC will focus on)

Specialist classes are just as important, kids don’t know how to eat or exercise properly these days and you’re going to cut them? Furthermore, with dropout rates and teen pregnancy high who will inform our students of the risks?

Also with the mayor’s focus on crime and making Brockton safer again, what makes a city safer increased police presence or an educated population?

There needs to be a happy medium.

Now the mayor has gone to Cape Verde and rumor says he is going to Italy during the summer. He purchased new motorcycles and the police and fire departments just received a 13% raise over X amount of years.

It is clear that the Mayor and the Superintendent are not going about the budget the right way. If there needs to be cuts it shouldn’t be to education. Students needs better learning conditions in the city not worst. And with the PARCC test looming it is putting even more stress on students and parents.

Speaking to an aunt with nieces in Brockton Public Schools she expressed her disdain for what is going on in regards to PARCC.
I don’t like it at all. These tests are stressing my nieces out. They already have to worry about MCAS. They are dealing with self-esteem issues not getting into TAG (Brockton’s talented and gifted program, an accelerated learning program for public school students) they are questioning their intellect and I have to reassure them they are just as smart as the other students.
Why add on another test to put more pressure on them? Children need reassurance and motivation when they are learning or else they’ll quickly become disinterested.
It seems counter intuitive that Mayor Bill Carpenter imposes school budget cuts forcing the Superintendent to lay off teachers. This a year before a completely new standardized test is supposed to be put into motion. There is money to take overseas trips, raise the wages of police officers and firefighters at the same time hire more police. Why do it at the expense of the education of students in Brockton and the livelihoods of public school educators. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that divesting from public school education wreaks havoc on communities, Chicago went through the most school closings in US history and is now dealing with increased inner city violence to the point that it’s gotten the nickname “Chiraq”. It is important that Brockton residents are aware of these budget cuts and the effects it will have in the very near future. If you are concerned you can always send letters, make phone calls, or voice your concern at an upcoming School Committee Meeting.

You can view the School Committee in which the author was invited to speak below at 4:21

*Updated 5/20/14*

Written by: E. Rey

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