East Bridgewater: School system believes new state mandates are hurting rather than helping

East Bridgewater Superintendent of Schools Susan Cote says she’s frustrated with the state.

This past summer, Governor Deval Patrick signed into law a bill that revamps how all educators are evaluated. School systems were given a two-month window to adapt to the state mandate which has been very overwhelming and difficult for East Bridgewater.

“It seems like this happens so often. Next year it’s something new and then the year after that it’s something else that’s new. The paperwork, and the documentation, the legislation, and the professional development has taken us away from what we feel as a community our needs are for our kids  as far as time spent on teaching and learning,” explains Cote

The state legislation now requires that MCAS test scores be considered in a teacher’s evaluation. During a meeting between East Bridgewater educators and school committee members Friday afternoon, teachers said they’re insulted by the mandate because they feel as though they’re constantly proving themselves.

Heather Fowler-Wechter, a 3rd grade teacher, has been with the East Bridgewater School System for nearly 20-years. She’s seen a change in the way curriculum is taught because of MCAS testing, saying student skills have decreased over the years as a result, “All of the scores and all those things–they’re good but you just don’t see them having that love of learning and that joy they had.”

The state is also now requiring teachers to take an ELL, or English Language Learners, course in order to renew their teacher’s license. However, Beth Hayes, who’s the Chair of the East Bridgewater School Committee, believes it’s a course meant for teachers in urban areas—not suburban.

“In large cities, they’re plenty of kids who have that need but we only have about 10 or 15 in the entire district and to ask our teachers for them to be trained in something that probably will never cross their classroom, to me, seems [like] another example of one size fits all,” says Hayes

East Bridgewater middle and high school teachers expressed at the meeting that they no longer have the time or energy to be involved in extracurricular activities because the state has burdened them with mandates.

State Representative Geoff Diehl sat in on the meeting and said that he plans on meeting with officials from the Massachusetts Teachers Association to address educators concerns.

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About Trisha McNeilly

With a Bachelor’s Degree in American Studies from the University of Massachusetts-Boston under her belt, Trisha McNeilly joins us full-time as a general assignment and breaking news reporter having previously interned for WBZ-1030 AM in Boston. A South Shore resident her whole life, McNeilly grew up in Pembroke and is 22-years old.