If you were going to "build a teacher" in a largely working class town where the majority of those enrolled in the public schools are students of color, one of the models you would work from would be Augustin Morales. Born in Holyoke Mass., part of that town's large Puerto Rican community, Gus spent several years in the military before returning to school to become a teacher. He was someone known for going the extra mile for his students and their families as well as his colleagues, and was given the signal honor of being elected President of the Holyoke Teachers Association in only his third year in the schools. Unfortunately, his outspoken, confident persona clashed with the worldview of his "reform minded" principal, and Superintendent and he was denied tenure at the end of his third year of teaching. Now he is being denied access to school property by his Superintendent to try to make it impossible for him to function as a union leader.This is a catastrophe on many levels. But unfortunately, it is an all too common occurrence throughout the nation where reformers have pushed out tens of thousands of teachers who grew up in the neighborhoods they are teaching in, favoring instead highly mobile teacher temps more likely to be compliant and less likely to bond with community residents. Someone needs to tell me why this strategy will make school better and communities stronger. To me, it will result in the exact opposite.
Want to help Gus Moralies? Write Holyoke Superintendent Sergio Paez at
firstname.lastname@example.org and ask him what is going on