State: Sibling Preference at Silver Hill is Law; Union: School Lacks Diversity

Haverhill Education Association President Lisa R. Begley said the union is simply “trying to have a conversation” with Silver Hill Horace Mann Charter School supporters.

Although state education officials have sided with supporters of the city’s Silver Hill Horace Mann Charter School on at least one point, the teacher’s union head said the school still has a problem.

Last week, union President Lisa R. Begley said Silver Hill’s policy of admitting brothers and sisters of existing students takes seats away from other students that may be more representative of the city as a whole. Devan Ferreira, a parent of two children at the school and a member of its charitable foundation, countered the school has no choice. In a June 8 letter, Claire Smithney of the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, agreed.

“Priority for enrollment in a Horace Mann charter school shall be given first to students actually enrolled in the school on the date that the application is filed with the board and to their siblings; second to other students actually enrolled in the public schools of the district where the Horace Mann charter school is to be located; and third to other resident students,” Smithney wrote.

Begley said, requirement or not, Silver Hill is not representative of the city’s children.

“If they had their correct demographics to begin with, it also wouldn’t be an issue. Our concern is still the demographics. If you already have a lot of white kids there, by having siblings, then you will continue to have a lot of white kids.”

Smithney otherwise agreed with Begley’s argument.

“Each charter school must work to recruit and retain a population that is demographically comparable to similar schools in its sending district,” Smithney wrote. “The school must have a recruitment and retention plan that includes ‘deliberate, specific strategies the school will use… to attract, enroll and retain a student population that, when compared to students in similar grades in schools from which the charter school is expected to enroll students, contains a comparable academic and demographic profile.’”

Teachers across the city, members of the Haverhill Education Association, are scheduled to vote today on whether to renew the charter of the school.

Begley has said the union has tried to be fair, recognizing its own members are teachers at Silver Hill. Suggestions were made only to make renewal of Silver Hill’s charter more acceptable to other union members.

“I’m trying to have a conversation with them. How do we increase the diversity at your school? They just keep coming back to me with ‘everything we’re doing is within the law so we don’t have to do anything else.”

Ferreira has said the union is carrying its general opposition to charter schools to the Silver Hill vote.

“It seems to be more focusing on a referendum of charters in general,” she told WHAV last week.

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7 Comments

  1. jack said:

    Seems as though reading the comments form all the post on the multiple stories, people are not happy with what went on. So, it is time these same people become engaged in your local politics and DO SOMETHING about this. Do not think for a minute your voice will not be heard Speak up and speak loudly and often. Also, bring your friends as number matter. The teachers union did and look what happened.

  2. Sad Parent said:

    I can’t help but feel kind of sad. This is made about the color of my child’s skin? He is not going to be able to keep at his school because his skin is white? I’m sorry that he is not desirable for that reason. But I am so glad I did my research at the beginning of the year. I was active in my child’s education. I signed him up for the lottery. He was the last number chosen.

  3. Jack Haverhill said:

    It’s very well known that teacher unions do not want more charter schools in Massachusetts. Charter Schools pose a serious threat to current day public school unions. Public teacher unions do nothing but breed mediocrity. With the additional demands on charter schools teachers, and the resulting success and increase in performance of students, the last thing public school teachers want is similar demands place upon them. Charter schools provide significant competition to public school teacher unions, and their results speak for themselves…and Lisa Begley and the HEA knows it.

    Begley can’t fight the merits of the measurable success that the Horace Mann charter school has achieved, so she’s got to create way to cut them down. She knows that overall, kids in Haverhill schools who are minorities don’t perform as well academically as white students. That’s not opinion, that’s fact. Begley pushing for more minority students at the HM school suggests they will bring down the overall performance of school. With decreased overall performance Begley and the HEA then have their argument against any further expansion of charter schools and possibly the closing of HM.

    For anyone who thinks Lisa Begley is seriously concerned about diversity and the interests of minority students in Haverhill you should run, not walk, to your doctor to have your head examined. It’s absolutely laughable that Begley would actually use “skin color” as a means of determining institutional academic excellence.

    This is a blatant racist attempt by Lisa Begley to literally “use” minorities for the self-interest of the HEA. Where is the Haverhill Hispanic Coalition on this? Minority students are being used as a pawn and not a word from all the liberal officials in the city!! Where’s their public outrage? Where’s Andy Vargas? Andy brags about being the first Latino city councilor in the city, but when Latinos are being used right in front of his eyes he’s no where to be found…again! Yet another reason not to re-elect him.

  4. Duncan Burns said:

    The unions do not like charter schools, and in this case, Members of HEA also has a history of supporting causes that serve only the unions interest and to hell with everyone elses. This was especially noticeable with the union snubbing of NATIONAL Teacher of The Year award winner Sydney Chaffee of the Codman Academy Charter Public School

    In particular, HEA Members have supported the “Raise up” campaign which includes: paid medical leave, $15 minimum wage, and of course going to ballot, the “millionaires tax”, a 4% increase in taxation on anyone making over a million a year. Of course the parent of HEA, The MTA, along with SEIU 1199, have been pouring money into this initiative with the belief that the theft, I mean taxation, will go into education funding, de facto union members pockets.

    Raise Up have donated over $40K to SEIU 1199, where of course SEIU 1199 has donated over $3 million over the years to Bacon Hill politicians, amazingly only of which $2K has found Haverhill’s own Brian Dempsey’s pockets. Not to go unnoticed, The MTA and SEIU have helped in contributing to both “Raise Up Together Independent Expenditure PAC” and “Save our Public Schools” with $197,500.00 & $17,228,189.61 respectively garnered from donors.

    As a side amusement, the Raise Up #FightFor15 support on Beacon Hill including none other than State Senator Dan Wolf, CEO of Cape Air – Who doesn’t even pay his own employees $15/hr.

    The “diversity” call is a red herring, Haverhill is 84% White, of course Mayor Jimmy is trying to change that with inviting as many Invaders as possible, while dumbing down the school system with it. The initiatives are simply a way for public unions to have further access to taxpayers pockets for their own benefit. This has zero to do with education or anything “for the children”.

  5. SlipperCity said:

    Lisa Begley says, “the union is simply “trying to have a conversation” with Silver Hill Horace Mann Charter School supporters.”

    That’s an interesting statement. I was under the impression they (the teachers of Haverhill aka the union members) do not want Charter Schools no matter what. Isn’t this what it is all about?

  6. Joanna said:

    Maybe Ms. Begley is Still ignorant to the active recruitment SH is doing to include student diversity… maybe she is choosing to not talk about it because it doesn’t fit her narrative.

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