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Poor, poor Southbridge. They can’t seem to catch a break. Their schools have been in chaos for years, not because the teachers are no good, but because they are expected to magically overcome socioeconomic barriers that no human being has the ability to transcend. Southbridge has extremely high levels of poverty and students who come from homes where English is not spoken. Behavior problems abound, administrators are constantly leaving for greener pasture, and the state always threatens to take over. Finally after falling into “Level 5” status (as low as you can get) they have come under state control. Naturally Mitchell Chester and his $220,000 salary have found a way to make it much, much worse. Excerpts from the Turtlegram in italics, followed by Turtleboy’s rational thoughts in bold.
A turnaround plan to make excellence the rule in the long-struggling school district of about 2,200 students was unveiled by state Education Commissioner Mitchell D. Chester and a receiver he appointed to run the system. Mr. Chester, receiver Jessica L. Huizenga, and Town Council Chairman Esteban Carrasco, Jr. spoke at a press event Friday at Charlton Street Elementary School, after which a number of teachers sported concerned expressions about what appear to be jarring changes to their work conditions.
The plan for the Level 5 chronically underperforming district suggests there will be an extended school day or year; aims to permit receiver Mrs. Huizenga to hire, retain and assign staff where most needed; revise the compensation system; create clearer and higher expectations for students’ academic achievement; and revise special education systems.
— masslivenews (@masslivenews) June 24, 2016
Jessica Huizenga was appointed to take over this district. She is allegedly some sort of school witch doctor who can magically make Southbridge schools great again. But here’s the thing that the Turtlegram is electing NOT to report – she was driven out of Cambridge in a plagiarism scandal. She stole someone else’s work and didn’t cite them for it in a report she wrote. The website she didn’t cite? Wikipedia. Swear to God.
A student in the Cambridge Public Schools likely would have been disciplined, and their grade would suffer. They’ve also been told repeatedly that Wikipedia i not a legitimate source and cannot be used in research. But when an adult plagiarizes Wikipedia they get appointed to take over an entire school district they’ve never stepped foot in before. Either that or they get hired as reporters at the Turtlegram and Gazette.
Jessica Huizenga is your typical school administrator. She taught for a short while, realized she couldn’t hack it in the classroom, got a Master’s and a PhD, and started moving around from district to district in order to pad her resume.
But the problem is that she’s never worked with a district like Southbridge. She is from Burlington. She was an assistant principal in Randolph, and a principal in Holliston and Westford. She served as the assistant superintendent in Lakeville-Freetown Regional School District, before eventually becoming assistant superintendent in Cambridge. She is your classic unqaulified climber, who ran away from the classroom because she wasn’t good at her job but still claims to have all the answers.
Oh yea, and she just so happens to look exactly like the woman from Orange is the New Black who plays the character that best represents Jessica Huizenga:
If you’re not familiar with the show, Linda works for management. It’s her job to put a fancy bow on terrible programs that make the quality of life much worse for everyone at the jail.
The bottom line is that none of the districts where she worked are remotely similar to Southbridge. They are mostly wealthy, white-washed towns where kids come from two parent homes and everyone speaks English. Good thing she was appointed to “fix” a school system where Miguel Cotto is more well known than George Washington.
The chronically underperforming district, whose student population is 45 percent Hispanic and 72 percent in high-needs categories, was taken over by the state in January, joining Holyoke and Lawrence as districts under state control through the Achievement Gap Act of 2010. Southbridge was deemed underperforming in 2004. The review said Southbridge’s disarray in leadership since 2010, with seven superintendents and seven high-school principals, and 43 people moved in and out of the nine top school and district leadership jobs, was central to its struggles.
State Rep. Peter J. Durant, R-Spencer, said in an interview that receivership was good for this community, and Mrs. Huizenga is the right fit.
“She has a lot of work ahead of her,” the legislator said. “I’ve heard some positive things from teachers and administrators. Obviously not everybody is going to be happy, but change has got to come and I think Jessica is going to do a good job at it.”
This guy. Peter Durant. He was Kevin Hayes’ coffee bitch while David Prouty High School was literally crumbling to the ground.
This schools a piece of shit pic.twitter.com/j79edgqxqs
— Tyler Ingalls (@tyler_ingalls) January 12, 2016
Seriously, that school was in need of immediate relief and state intervention. State Representatives Peter Durant and Donald Berthiaume did literally NOTHING, except take a tour of the school and say Kevin Hayes is doing a great job.
Here’s my question – what positive things have you heard about this woman? That she did a great job covering up her plagiarism scandal? That she bounces around from district to district and has no commitment to any particular students? What a loser.
Among notable changes coming, the plan said Mrs. Huizenga will develop a compensation system that will pay employees based on effectiveness, professional growth, and student academic growth. Before doing so, Mrs. Huizenga will consult with the teachers’ union, the plan says. During 2016-17, it said, the receiver will conduct a review of educators on directed growth plans, and of educators and staff on improvement plans, and of those employees identified as having poor performance. Teachers, administrators, and other staff whose performance is unsatisfactory, after receiving feedback and an opportunity to improve, will be dismissed, the plan said. Teachers, administrators and other staff whose performance is determined to need improvement will be placed on a plan.
There is no bigger scam going in education than paying compensation to teachers based on their supposed effectiveness. It sounds good to the MORONS like this who comment on the Turtlegram:
Newsflash – when you pay teachers merit pay based on “performance,” and the measure of that performance is a standardized test score, this only encourages teachers to teach to the test. This is not how learning works, and it’s certainly not how good teachers do their job. Teaching kids strategies on how to eliminate choices in a multiple choice test, or drilling in useless information that a bunch of overpaid hacks in Boston deemed was most important, is not how we develop 21st century skills for kids.
Teachers don’t object to merit pay because they’re lazy. They object to it because it will benefit the bad teachers and hurt children in the long run. Oh yea, and what about grades that aren’t MCAS tested? Or teachers who teach foreign language, history, or other non-MCAS tested subjects? Didn’t think of that one did ya Jessicca?
When $220,000 hacks like Mitchell Chester bring in these magical people like Jessica Huizenga, you should be skeptical. Because no one can fix poverty and shitty homes. But they use low test scores and districts like Southbridge to override collectively bargained contracts (merit pay is not allowed). Then they get rid of democracy, by giving her more power than the School Committee. Check out Southbridge’s website – she’s already the Fuhrer of the SPS:
This isn’t fake. This is really on their website.
The bottom line is people like Mitchell Chester and Jessica Huizenga have to come to terms with the fact that Southbridge is the way it is for a variety of factors. If we REALLY wanted to fix schools, then we’d start holding parents responsible for not taking care of their kids, not feeding them appropriately, not making sure they do their homework, and not raising them to respect authority and education in general. Until we do that then places like Southbridge, Lawrence, and Holyoke will keep churning out kids who can’t learn. And giving teachers a bonus check for artificially inflating test scores while firing good teachers who don’t play along with this meaningless game, isn’t going to fix anything.
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