For immediate release
Contact: HTA President Gus Morales
Holyoke Teachers Association releases vision statement for turnaround process
As the Local Stakeholder Group for the Holyoke Public Schools prepares to meet on Wednesday, May 27, the Holyoke Teachers Association released its vision for the turnaround process while district schools are in state receivership.
“Members of the HTA are looking forward to working with the stakeholder group, Education Commissioner Mitchell Chester and his appointed receiver,” said HTA President Gus Morales. “The HTA is hopeful that Commissioner Chester and the receiver will collaborate with educators and the community in a dynamic process that will require modifications and improvements as plans unfold.”
In its vision statement, attached to this message, the HTA prepared the guiding principles and goals it intends to adhere to as educators engage in the turnaround process.
The first guiding principle is an acknowledgment that a turnaround will be sustainable only if adequate and comprehensive investments are made in education resources, with a commitment to educating the whole child.
The principles and goals take into account that Holyoke schools are affected by the city’s economy, and the turnaround plan will not be long-lasting if the impact of poverty on Holyoke Public Schools is not addressed.
Educators will be advocating for a process that addresses students’ health and well-being as well as purely academic issues. The state Achievement Gap Act, which gives Commissioner Chester the authority to take over the school district, also calls for resources for the community to tackle the economic injustice that affects student preparedness.
The HTA is pleased to have members Briget Reilly and Shelley Whelihan joining Morales on the 18-member Local Stakeholder Group. Reilly teaches at Dean Technical High School and is in her 18th year in the district. Whelihan, a 20-year veteran teacher in the Holyoke Public Schools, teaches at McMahon Elementary School. Both are parents of students in the Holyoke Public Schools and both are members of families that are active in the community.
“I see my role as bringing the real stories of teachers into the stakeholder discussions,” Reilly said.
Whelihan said policies and plans put into place without authentic input from classroom educators are less likely to be successful than those derived collaboratively.
The HTA has also created a Stakeholder Advisory Group comprising educators from various grade levels and school buildings to assist in adding the perspectives of educators to stakeholder discussions.
The five scheduled meetings of the Local Stakeholder Group are open to the public.
Wednesday’s meeting, starting at 3 p.m., will be in the Holyoke Public Library.
***The HTA Vision and Guiding Principles document is attached to this post as JPG (photos) and are in English and Spanish. Please distribute***