A petition has started to keep certified social studies teachers at Fuller Middle School.
Framingham Public School administration announced it plans to eliminate social studies teaching positions in grade 6 and 7 at one of public school district’s three middle schools.
Instead, of certified social studies teachers, students would have language arts, math, and science teachers each teach one section of social studies outside of their area of certification.
The district said in a press release on June 14 that “the influx of over 110 new students this year with the added need to address students with interrupted schooling was considered in the equation with the approval of new teaching and coaching positions for English Language Development and Students With Limited or Interrupted Education (SLIFE). The decision to eliminate two 7th grade Social Studies positions for the 2016-2017 academic year is a result of multiple conversations with the Fuller administrative team.”
“All Framingham Middle School children are entitled to an equal education. Both Cameron and Walsh Middle School students have certified social studies teachers in all grades. Currently, there are no certified 6th grade social studies teachers at Fuller and central office has just cut both of the 7th grade social studies teaching positions. This is a problem for the students and the teachers. The students should be taught by appropriately licensed teachers,” wrote Becky Arpino, in starting the petition.
“This is not acceptable,” Arpino wrote, who started the petition this weekend.
Fuller Middle School is the district’s only level 3 middle school. Walsh and Cameron middle schools are ranked higher at level 2.
The Framingham Public Schools administration and Framingham School Committee “should certainly not be reducing the number of teachers at Fuller,” wrote Arpino, who added hat the district is “only as good as its lowest level schools. All our children are entitled to the same caliber of education. Please bring back certified social studies teachers to Fuller Middle School.”
As of 5 a.m. Sunday, June 19, more than 175 parents and educators had signed the petition.
“I am a social studies teacher. I couldn’t do justice to the job of the math, ELA or science teachers, and I wouldn’t expect them to do mine. We have chosen our disciplines based on our passions. Our kids deserve the best – no matter where they live in town, their ethnicity, their socioeconomic levels, where they are at for English language acquisition, or how they behave due to personal struggles, trauma, illness, disability, or any other factor(s). ALL children in Framingham deserve a quality, equitable education no matter which school they attend,” wrote Fuller teacher Carol Virdinlia, who grew up in Framingham and attended McCarthy, Farley, and Framingham South High.
“All students should get equal educational opportunities no matter which school” a student attends, wrote parent Yuki Shikichi, in signing the petition.
“My child deserves the best education just as well as the other kids in the other schools and to take away Social Studies is not fair,” wrote parent Susan Faranda, whose child attended Brophy Elementary, another level 3 school, before Fuller Middle.
Presently, Brophy and McCarthy Elementary, another level 3 school, feed into Fuller Middle School. Eventually, King Elementary students will feed into Fuller Middle. In the fall, King will only have grades kindergarten, first, and second, compared to K-5 for the town’s eight other elementary schools.
But both Cameron and Walsh middle schools each have three elementary schools feeding into them. That means class sizes at Fuller can be smaller than the other two middle schools
“This ‘solution’ (of eliminating social studies teachers) is addressing the symptoms, not the cause of the problem. Is school population skewed, leaving too few students at Fuller? Then solve THAT problem – don’t fix this on the backs of the students and at the expense of the teachers – who, by the way, are dedicated, caring, creative and tenacious,” wrote Melanie Goddard, in signing the petition. Goddard, who worked at Fuller, previously headed the Education Committee for Framingham Town Meeting.
“As a Framingham parent and a Town Meeting Member, I am horrified that ALL students in our community are not getting the same education taught by qualified teachers. I believe this decision by the administration is out of compliance with both State and Federal certification and regulation guidelines,” wrote Charles Schneider, in signing the petition.
“Equity and access. All students should have it. No schools should be neglected. In this case, both are happening. Fuller staff and students deserve better. Fix this,” wrote Sarah McKeon, who is co-president of the Framingham Teachers Association, in signing the petition.
“I’m signing because all students in Framingham deserve a quality, equitable education from qualified teachers no matter which school they attend,” wrote parent Heather Ostendorff-Bach.
“Social Studies is a crucial subject for creating critical thinkers and responsible citizens. It needs to be taught by a highly qualified social studies teacher,” wrote Kim High, in signing the petition. Her husband is a Town Meeting member.
The petition is to be delivered to Framingham Superintendent of Schools Stacy Scott, Assistant Superintendent Frank Tiano, Chief Academic Officer Sonia Diaz and the Framingham School Committee, which is scheduled to meet Tuesday night, June 21.
UPDATE: There will be no public meeting of the Framingham School Committee on Tuesday night.