The New Bedford Coalition to Save Our Schools (NBCSOS) is a grassroots organization primarily made up of New Bedford families, students, and educators in New Bedford and the Greater New Bedford area.
NBCSOS is committed to protecting public education and strengthening our schools and our community by building a leader-full movement and effective campaigns. The mission of NBCSOS is to create caring schools that work to support the physical, social, and emotional development of all students so that they become creative, compassionate participants who are capable and willing to transform society in the direction of equity.
In 2018, NBCSOS launched its first campaign and organized a successful resistance against charter expansion.
NBCSOS held community forums, rallies, small action dialogues, and film screenings of “A Backpack Full of Cash” throughout the city and canvassed homes to discuss public education and privatization. But success did not hinge on the sheer number of spaces that NBCSOS created for important dialogue.
It was much more a result of accessibility and authenticity.
NBCSOS leadership held meetings in public housing, had translators at every meeting and event, and even provided childcare when needed. We listened to families: youth, parents, guardians, and grandparents about their needs, wants, and experiences. We created a collective identity and always determined “next steps” together as a coalition. Many members took on leadership roles, forming various subcommittees and leading particular actions.
It was incredibly important to ensure that nobody was left out of conversations that would shape our schools and that members felt respected, heard, and empowered. “Nothing about us without us” became a popular mantra throughout the resistance.
In other words, participation was conceived within a context of increased equity, inclusion, and activism.
The Massachusetts Teachers Association and the New Bedford Educators Association joined NBCSOS as members. The relationship between NBCSOS and MTA was seamless because of a shared commitment to democratic principles and quality public education. The merger between the organizations lifted many barriers contributing to the successful resistance.
Local news has recognized the critical role MTA played; however, the mothers, fathers, grandparents, students, and teachers deserve credit.
In order to participate, mothers often had to bring their children to meetings. Conversations were had over pizza and coloring books. In order to make change, members needed to work beyond the scope of their professions: Weekends involved canvassing and gathering petition signatures and weeknights involved writing op-eds and letters to elected officials.
Campaign success was because of New Bedford families and teachers speaking up and rolling up their shirtsleeves to fight for a public good.
Today, the coalition is made up of over 150 active members who are engaged in direct action to save our schools from privatization and build quality public schools. The membership is multigenerational, multiethnic, and multilingual.
NBCSOS offers parents, youth, educators, and community leaders various opportunities to engage and transform schools, including facilitating community action dialogues around education/social justice issues, the SOUL Academy dedicated to empowering youth, professional development for educators, and political candidate support. NBCSOS collaborates with BREATHE!, STAR-NB, and other social and racial justice organizations to organize against structural and systemic racism.
In addition to successfully resisting privatization of our schools, NBCSOS has been instrumental in numerous wins for the New Bedford Public Schools, including additional funding, an overhaul of the food service department, greater community voice, and much more. NBCSOS members are currently working with NBPS on a number of initatives, including the development of an equity plan and to reimagine school safety.
Participate in moving our schools in a direction of equity and social justice by contacting us or coming to a monthly meeting. All are welcome.