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Shameful disrespect of students, communities of color

Image of sticker saying "defend our students" in Spanish

The reprehensible scene that played itself out in front of Worcester’s City Hall before the May 2 School Committee meeting was emblematic of the ongoing fight around racial equity within the schools. As a group of young people – both children and teenagers – held signs and chanted their message, that the public school system needs to confront its generations-old race issue, a group of middle-aged and older supporters of the current superintendent chanted loudly, purposely trying to drown out the sound of the youth. They even mocked the youths’ slogans. How grotesque! Watching the spectacle, one couldn’t help but to think of G. K. Chesterton’s famous quote that “Children are innocent and love justice, while most adults are wicked and prefer mercy.” The fact that…

Dishonest discussion on racism from Monfredo, others

Picture of Monfredo with a quote

The debate around racism in the Worcester Public Schools has reached absurd proportions. Those who speak out for what’s right, most especially School Committee member Dante Comparetto, are being villiefied. On the other side are those, for example the dinosaur-like John Monfredo, who seek to preserve the status quo, hearing but not listening to the stories of students of color and looking at statistics showing glaring disparities between whites and nonwhite students, and then telling the public: “There’s nothing to see here.” As the newly-formed Worcester Coalition for Education Equity notes in a recent statement, “It is our professional, ethical, and moral obligation to establish and maintain a public education system in Worcester that reflects, values and honors the success of all students. Unfortunately, as…

“Crazy amounts” of posturing on racism, emails, Worcester Public Schools

Picture of a hand holding marker writing the word racism

It seems like someone is out to get Dante Comparetto, a member of the Worcester School Committee, and, by extension, anyone who seeks to address the issue of racism in the Worcester Public Schools. A March 19 article in the online news source This Week in Worcester described an email sent by Comparetto to friends and supporters, then forwarded on by Greater Worcester Our Revolution [Disclaimer: I am the chair of GWOR]. In the message, Comparetto urged Worcester residents to come to an upcoming school committee meeting to show support for actions to address what he labeled “a crazy amount” of racism in the city’s school system. Why does Comparetto’s email merit a news story? It is hard to determine why Comparetto urging followers to…

Ilhan Omar, tweets, and anti-Semitism

Herzl and Rep. Ilhan Omar

I’m Jewish. Ethnically, on my father’s side of the family, the line goes back to Minsk, Belarus. That’s as far as I’ve been able to trace it, because the neighborhood my great grandparents lived in, as well as any record of their pre-American existence, was obliterated by the Nazis. I was raised Catholic – my mother’s side of the family is Irish – but I converted to Judaism officially. I went through more than a year of study, was questioned by a beit din, and followed all the rituals that a gerut takes. While my father didn’t practice the Jewish faith, he was proud of being Jewish – and he was proud of the State of Israel. I remember him telling me about how there…

On the Women’s March controversy

A number of important articles critical of the Women’s March have appeared recently, including in the New York Times and the Tablet, the latter of which is perhaps the most encyclopedic of the articles to date. Criticisms of the national organization have appeared from many others, including local affiliates, provoking responses from the March itself, and have led to the formation of another organization, March On, and, more recently, the cancellation of at least one of the “sister marches.” The most common criticism of the March is the embrace of Louis Farrakhan by at least one of its leaders. Farrakhan, of course, is notoriously anti-Semitic, homophobic, trans-phobic, and misogynistic. While he’s played a backwards roll in the movement for African American freedom for years, his…

Worcester anti-sex ed crowd displays disregard for kids, truth

It’s hard to determine what is more infuriating: the fact that now, in the year 2018, Worcester’s public school system doesn’t have anything resembling a comprehensive sex education curriculum in place; or that, as the school system makes tentative steps towards a modern education, there are still those who come out to protest against it. School Committee member Dante Comparetto placed a benign-sounding resolution on that body’s Dec. 20th meeting agenda, item gb #8-369: “Request that the Administration provide an update of the Sex Education unit in the Health Education curriculum.” However, this request proved controversial, as someone – it’s not certain whom, but the rumor is that it was a grouping of school committee members and religious organizations – organized a small number of…

Jen Caissie is a far-right extremist; vote Democratic for Governor’s Council

While the national battle for Congress is rightly dominating the headlines, there are important local, but far less known, races that matter as well. The struggle to defeat the extremist Trump-Republican Jen Caissie for the local Governor’s Council seat is just such a race. Caissie hails from the Trump wing of the GOP. Anyone who values basic American ideals such as fairness and democracy, core tenets of our nation that are under assault possibly more now than at any point in any living person’s memory, should vote against Caissie. Reason to vote Democratic Don’t be ashamed if you don’t know what the Governor’s Council is; most people don’t. The council has a few roles, but the most important of which is to approve, or not,…

Paul Fullen, ethics violations, and the South High principal

Something unsavory and seemingly illegal is afoot in the 17th Worcester District, comprised of southwestern parts of Worcester and the town of Leicester, in the battle between Democrat David LeBoeuf and the Trump-like Republican Paul Fullen to become state representative. On Oct. 9, voters in the district received a mailing from the Paul Fullen campaign, with a return address of the MSRC, or Massachusetts State Republican Committee, featuring a picture of South High Community School Principal Jeff Creamer, replete with a photograph of Fullen and Creamer shaking hands in front of the school, i.e. on school property. Superimposed on the photo is a quote attributed to Creamer. “I’ve known Paul over 30 years,” the quote reads. “He is definitely the clear choice when it comes…

This 4th: “It is not light that is needed, but fire”

It’s Independence Day, that time of year when Americans, whether citizens or new Americans, celebrate the country’s revolutionary founding as the world’s first democratic republic, its history, and its future. This year, however, perhaps more than any in recent memory, the fireworks and cookouts and celebratory trips to the beach (for those of us not coastally challenged) seem to ring hollow. The celebrations don’t seem to fit our current, dangerous national reality. Celebration feels like a way of taking our collective minds off of what’s becoming of our beautiful land between two shining seas. The fascist, anti-American threat Over the past year and a half, Americans – the most progressive of whom have always realized that the nation isn’t perfect, but who celebrated its continued…

Community and labor put paid family leave and Fight for 15 on the ballot

WORCESTER, Mass. – A group of activists working with Raise Up Massachusetts dropped off 1,489 signatures at City Hall this morning, in hopes of securing paid family medical leave and a raise in minimum wage for all Massachusetts workers. Raise Up Massachusetts, or RUM, is a grassroots coalition of many dozens of labor unions, faith groups, and community organizations. Those at City Hall this morning included City Councilor Khrystian King, School Committee Member Dante Comparetto, representatives of SEIU Local 509, the Worcester Food Policy Council, high school students, immigration activists, and others. The question on paid family and medical leave would, if voted into law, ensure that workers across the commonwealth receive paid time off to recover from illness, to take care of family members…

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