On March 9, 2020, NBCSOS members -- students, educators, parents, and community leaders -- stood before the New Bedford School Committee to let them know how we want our Chapter 70 funds spent. As a result of the #fundourfuture campaign and Student Opportunity Act, Massachusetts school districts are required to get feedback from stakeholders regarding the prioritization of Chapter 70 funds. New Bedford Public School educator and NBCSOS member, Lori Silveira, made a compelling argument to "fund our future" by supporting educators and students instead of corporate ed reform. Watch live on New Bedford Educational Access (21:00-24:35).
Fund Our Future, Not Corporate Ed Reform
By: Lori Silveira
Good evening, I sit before you as a New Bedford educator for over 27 consecutive years. I am also a proud WHALER, Class of 1984.
I have experienced corporate education reform first-hand -- standardized curricula; scripted lessons; the high stakes testing regime; corporate educational leadership models; and serious attacks on teachers resulting in premature retirements, exits to other districts, and abandonment of the profession.
All of this is disheartening and problematic for a number of reasons.
Standardized curricula crafted by third party vendors who are not professional educators, but all too often venture philanthropists, have stripped teachers of their autonomy and have attempted to reduce them to technicians. There are brilliant teachers here in NB who continue to exercise authority over their labor and work wonders with their students. Teachers need to be treated like the professionals that they are. Any use of chapter 70 funds that does not treat teachers this way should be avoided.
High stakes standardized tests like the MCAS have effectively worked to make schools and urban students look bad and low-test scores have been used to justify the privatization of our schools. The system has paved the way for more charters and vouchers, draining our public schools financially while pilfering many incredible students. These tests have little to no educational value. If these tests are built on a bell-curve it means that the so-called “achievement gap” is not designed to ever be closed. Using additional money to close “achievement gaps” is very problematic. We should be using it to close “opportunity gaps” and improve the entire learning experience here.
Mainstream narratives now include that public school teachers are incompetent, parents are lazy, students are entitled, unions are greedy bullies, and that leadership should be hierarchical and that things should simply be imposed.
Much of this happens because this profession is largely fueled by women. Make no mistake, it’s an attack on women. Particularly at the elementary level. It’s also an attack on communities that are living in poverty and are working class. I say that only to say that many living in poverty actually work. This community deserves the same as any elite community in Massachusetts.
As an educator who takes pride in being a public servant, I implore you NOT to spend Ch 70 funds on
Additional accountability systems
Curriculum from third party vendors
“Personalized learning” ed tech programs (We don’t want our students behind screens. We want them interacting with one another AND REAL TEACHERS!)
Instead, use this money to support teachers and students so that they don’t have to rely on crowdsourcing platforms to fund classroom supplies and participate in field trips; so that the teacher to student ratio is reasonable, considering the challenges our learners face -- which was shared by our brave student members who spoke before me; so that we not only attract highly effective teachers, we keep the ones we have. Then, our students’ needs will truly be met.