Friday, February 10, 2017
Some explanations for poor school performance are not permitted
"Dangerous" thoughts below, apparently
SOUTHBRIDGE, Mass. - Racially insensitive statements by teachers during confidential interviews, and a letter that Receiver-Superintendent Jessica L. Huizenga recently wrote that some parents suggest ventured too far into politics, have fueled concerns in the state-run school district.
Both issues surfaced last week and are expected to be aired at a community meeting Thursday evening.
Twelve months ago, the state seized control of the chronically underperforming district, which has a high concentration of Hispanic students.
During a meeting of the School Committee and Town Council last week, a special-education presenter included a series of offensive statements by anonymous teachers.
To a question about what's the root cause of behavior and academic issues in Southbridge, the auditor reported a teacher said, "All the Puerto Rican families end up living together because they cannot afford their own housing and then they end up inbreeding."
Another teacher asserted that immigrant parents don't provide structure, while a third teacher pointed to a widespread drug problem.
The statements originated during focus groups of teachers, parents and staff members during an audit. Ms. Huizenga said she will never know who made the statements because of confidentiality agreements.
Presenter Lauren Katzman, the executive director of the Education Development Center's Urban Special Education Leadership Collaborative, called it "dangerous to think like that and work with students."