Letter sent to authorities to release Lawrence schools from receivership
Dear Commissioner Riley, D.E.S.E, and Governor Baker:
We, the concerned residents, educators, students, voters, and legislators of the Merrimack Valley delegation are writing to call for an end to the Receivership of Lawrence Public Schools. Since 2011 DESE’s forced restructuring of curriculum, personnel, and programs has failed to address the needs of students in the City of Lawrence. The pandemic made worse the inequities inherent in an impoverished and highly diverse community, as evidenced in the following ways:
-As crowding and supervision problems persist there has been a sharp increase in incidents of violence at Lawrence High School and other district schools. Lawrence students have a right to feel safe when they go to school.
-Elementary school notifications have been sent to parents urging them to keep students home for remote instruction due to staffing shortages. Lawrence children have the right to learn in person and in their school communities.
-Teacher turnover rates are much higher than in other gateway cities. Extensive district-wide vacancies have meant many students going weeks, even months–without having a consistent classroom teacher. Lawrence students deserve the chance to form relationships with trained professional educators.
-Lawrence schools are being driven by a mechanized test preparation curriculum which alienates students from authentic learning. Lawrence students deserve joyful and culturally appropriate, inquiry-driven learning.
-Lawrence High School graduates must often use Pell Grant dollars on non-credit remedial courses to access college-level work. Lawrence graduates deserve an education that prepares them for college.
-The Receivership has failed even by DESE’s own limited definition of achievement: MCAS data. Lawrence students, educators, and parents are not defined by test scores.
– Lastly, but importantly, the Receivership has diminished the role of faculty, staff, parents, students and the elected school committee in the governance and administration of their school district. The Lawrence Public School district must be made whole again.
This means restoring the full democratic rights of the Lawrence School Committee.
It means that the people working for Lawrence Public Schools have the full protections guaranteed under Mass. General Law 150 as members of a bargaining unit–the same protections we extend to every other district in the Merrimack Valley.
The “father knows best” policy of Receivership in the City of Lawrence cannot be abided any longer.