Members of the HTA,
As you know, on Friday, May 1, Education Commissioner Mitchell Chester made his first trip to Holyoke after the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education approved his plan to place Holyoke Public Schools in state receivership.
Karen Robidoux, president of the HPA, John Cavanaugh, president of the HEA, and I were present at the meeting with Chester and others from the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.
I asked the commissioner for details on his plans for educator pay scales, benefits, seniority rights and professional teaching status guidelines. He had no information on any of those topics, so I asked that he provide answers as soon as possible.
Another item that came up was the Local Stakeholders Group (LSG). The commissioner asked me to provide within a week the names of four HTA members to serve on the LSG. The members chosen will be responsible for ensuring that educators’ voices and the HTA’s collective concerns are part of any plan for the district.
Moving forward, there is a meeting this week of the Executive Board, and the MTA is gathering information pertinent to collective bargaining and due process rights.
The HTA and MTA are committed to fighting for members’ jobs and rights.
Through this process, it has become clear that the community values our work and shares a vision with us about creating schools that provide all students with a well-rounded education.
We must remain united. We must continue collaborating with the parents, students, and residents who support us.
Please watch for announcements on upcoming meetings to review the report on Holyoke Public Schools prepared by the MTA. Your input is crucial as the report will be the foundation of our demands for Holyoke Public Schools.
This is not a time to feel defeated or adrift. The HTA is not abandoning the goals it set for itself with input from the community. Adhering to our vision and principles should not be misconstrued as being “confrontational.”
We owe it to the students and families who passionately spoke on our behalf to continue working toward the schools that Holyoke deserves.
The HTA has made clear that educators want to be active participants in the planning, as well as the execution, of plans for Holyoke schools. If this is not a collaboration of equal partners, though, I fear there will be no collaboration at all, just top-down directives.
Transparency and democracy will better serve you and your students.
I will provide updates as they become available.