Worcester Activists Blame Superintendent For High Absentee Rates Of Latino Students, Demand She Be Fired
Maureen Binienda was my principal at South High School, and the current superintendent of the Worcester Public Schools. South is the most diverse high school in the city, and you’re greeted with flags from all over the world the moment you walk in the door. Mrs. Binienda could’ve worked at any school she wanted to, but she chose Worcester South because she has a passion for serving underprivileged communities. She has done God’s work there, and has dedicated her life to helping Worcester kids of all racial and ethnic backgrounds. Naturally then the mob is coming after her.
This is a press release from the unelected, politically motivated group known as the Worcester Interfaith:
Worcester’s demographics and performance indicators tell a compelling story of a school district that leaves a majority of its students – students of color – in the dust of their counterparts: failing to meet their Legal Equal Educational Opportunities. The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) reports that in 2017-2018, Worcester’s students were predominantly Latino (42.9%). English learners (ELs) comprised a third (32.8%) of our student population. Our ELs have the highest dropout rate at 5%, followed by Latino students, of whom 3.4% dropped out of school. Latino students have the highest chronic absenteeism (19.9%) and disciplinary exclusion (11.5%) rates. These data, among others, highlight the inevitable conclusion that our public schools are failing our students of color particularly our Latino students.
They are blaming the superintendent for the high chronic absenteeism rate of Latino students. This isn’t The Onion, it’s an actual press release that is being taken seriously. It’s Mrs. Binienda’s fault that kids don’t come to school. Evidently she is responsible when parents don’t put their kids on the bus in the morning.
This is another quote from the press release: Hold Accountable people who have perpetuated our failures.
OUR failures. They literally said that they want other people to be held responsible for their shortcomings. This sums up entitlement culture better than any quote I’ve ever read. The manifesto is also signed by Dan Margolis’ “Greater Worcester Our Revolution,” despite the fact that Margolis is an open and admitted communist.
Worcester Interfaith is run by City Councillor Sarai Rivera’s husband “Reverend” Jose Encarnacion.
They are a non-profit that pays their leaders a salary from grants that they receive for spewing the right buzzwords and alleging to be a group that cares about helping children and minorities. In reality they do nothing except force their radical politics on others, and try to get quality educators like Mrs. Binienda fired.
In 2010 Encarnacion wrote a threatening email to City Councillor Konnie Lukes for not supporting a resolution to boycott the state of Arizona because they were enforcing existing immigration laws. Just like with Mrs. Binienda, he vowed to have her replaced as well if she didn’t give into his demands.
I will make sure that the dispicable deafning tone of your NO! along with the NO’s of all the other councilors continues to ring loud and clear in my ears awakening in me a determined passion to make sure that come next term your NO’s or Yes’s for that matter will no longer be relevant. So just in case I didn’t make my self clear enough, I intend to use all the leadership influence bestowed upon me to awaken the same desire and passion among our community to ensure that you do not get re-elected.
So this is par for the course for him.
Meanwhile, what has he or his group done to help students of color in Worcester? If he’s concerned about absenteeism rates of Latino students then perhaps he should rent a van and drive kids to school who are missing too many days. I’ve worked in the Worcester Public Schools, and had an 11 year teaching career that included Shepherd Hill. The biggest difference between the two schools was absentee rates. Kids at Shepherd Hill don’t miss school for long periods of time, whereas many students in Worcester miss upwards of 50 days of school a year. They often come from homes where education is not valued, and thus missing school just isn’t a big deal. This isn’t Mrs. Binienda’s fault; it’s the parent’s fault.
But in today’s society we can’t ever hold people accountable for their behavior. We have to blame racism, or someone else. In this case Encarnacion is blaming both.
His group has done nothing to help students of color, but Mrs. Binienda has. Years ago a Shrewsbury student died tragically and his parents formed a charity called Andy’s Attic in his honor. As principal of South High Mrs. Binienda established South High as headquarters for Andy’s Attic, which warehouses donated clothing and gives them to underprivileged kids, many of who are students of color.
While Encarnacion virtue signals about racism so that he can continue to collect a salary from his political non-profit, Mrs. Binienda was being praised by the far left Huffington Post for the job she has done working with Worcester students:
She’s literally changing the world by positively impacting the lives of thousands of students (many of them homeless) each year. Her name is Maureen Binienda and she’s the principal of South High Community School in Worcester, MA where she’s been for 38 years.
South High Community School is a high school for 1200 inner city teenagers in Worcester. It’s no ordinary school in that approximately 188 of the students are homeless and as many as 668 of the kids speak English as a second language. As Principal Binienda pointed out during my recent tour of the school, “These kids are amazing. All of them will be successful. However, many of our kids have additional challenges. They are dealing with problems like how they are going to get food for dinner, where they are going to sleep, and whether they will have clothing to wear to school tomorrow.” Binienda and her staff have made it their mission in life to be a guiding star in the lives of their students, by helping them solve the challenges they face, so that they can focus on education. As Binienda sees it, the only way out of poverty is education, and this includes solving the problems of food, shelter, clothing and healthcare.
I recently took a tour of South High Community School with Maureen, and let’s just say that there were resources at this school that I’ve never personally witnessed in a high school. To begin with, South High houses a full medical clinic supported by Family Health Center. Maureen said that many of the kids wouldn’t get to have medical treatment at all if it were not for having an affiliated clinic at the school. Here, students can receive full physicals and regular medical care for sicknesses like flu and ear infections.
Adjacent to the clinic there is a student food pantry. Maureen says that with over 188 homeless students, there are kids that won’t have the opportunity to eat outside of the walls of the school without the help of their food pantry. She says that they have created a backpack program so that kids who need food can come to the pantry early in the morning to fill a back pack full of foods like pancake mixes, pasta, and canned goods. They leave the filled back pack in the pantry so that they can come back later that day to pick it up. They use backpacks rather than grocery bags so that kids that use this service can do so discreetly without letting others know their situation. The food pantry also provides birthday bags, a suggestion from a pharmacy volunteer, so those who are celebrating a birthday can come in and get a bag filled with cake mix, candles, frosting, party plates and the like. If you are wondering where all the food comes from to fill the pantry each week, well that too has everything to do with caring partners. Maureen is a volunteer usher at The Hanover Theater in Worcester. There are 290 ushers at the theater that each week bring food to the theater, which is posted on the usher website. The food pantry also receives funding from Fallon Health, UNUM, and community individuals.
There’s a lot more in that Huffington Post article if you want to see all the good she’s done in her career while Jose Encarnacion holds meaningless press conferences condemning “hate speech” from this blog.
I saw her passion and love for underprivileged kids when I was a student at South. I barely had any interactions with her because I was a solid B student who was going in the right direction. I came from a two parent home, I didn’t miss school, and I didn’t need her help or guidance. Whenever I saw her or walked by her office she was always talking to a kid who was struggling in school, or came from a home without much parental support. She knew that these kids needed her more than I did. She has helped countless students graduate from high school, and many of them now give back to the community by teaching at South.
But yet these unelected people have influence. Cowardly Mayor Joe Petty has given into their demands:
“I want to thank the leaders of the Latino community for bringing forward their concerns with the Worcester Public Schools and I view this as a teachable moment for us all,” Petty said. ” Simply put, we can do better.”
Today, Petty went further, opting not to wait until the School Committee meeting in laying out a plan to address the issues raised by the Coalition. The mayor called for:
- The School department to provide the necessary, student-sensitive data needed to do a thorough review of the suspension rates in our Worcester Public Schools.
- Hiring a diversity and equal opportunity officer as the city manager and city council has done on the municipal side of government.
- Worcester State University to re-engage with our school department in order to refresh and update the 2014 report, “Suspension in Worcester: A Continuing Conversation.”
- Incorporate training practices focused on understanding cultural differences, unconscious bias and trauma informed care.
In other words, he’s creating a position out of thin air for a “chief diversity officer,” who will make sure that kids who break the rules are not suspended because it looks bad on a chart. This is the racism-industrial complex in action. Step 1 – create the illusion of widespread racism. Step 2 – demand the creation of a paid position to combat the alleged racism. Step 3 – profit.
And that’s ultimately what this comes down to – these people blame the superintendent, racist teachers, and a police presence in schools for high suspension rates of Latino students. They looked at statistics involving suspension rates and determined that correlation implies causation, which it does not. They can’t provide a single example of a black or brown student getting suspended for an offense that a white student did not.
Here’s an idea – maybe, just maybe, Latino students are being disciplined at a higher rate because they break the rules at a higher rate. Again, I attended the WPS. I saw first hand how out of control some students are, and yes, many of them were Latino. This doesn’t mean all Latino students are bad, in fact most Latino students were there to learn. But the students who were disrupting and preventing other students (many of who are also Latino) from leaning had to be disciplined. This is common sense.
What these people want are out of control schools where no one is suspended. They want police out of schools despite the fact that rates of violence have gone done significantly since cops were put in schools. There’s a detail cop at every City Council meeting, where 50 people attend, so certainly there should be one at a school with over 1,200 students. They want Binienda gone so that their handpicked, woke superintendent can be put in. And the gutless Mayor seems inclined to cowtow to them instead of going to bat for the teachers and superintendent.
These people cannot get over the fact that this qualified woman got the job three years ago:
They were furious when Worcester didn’t waste thousands of dollars on a national search to bring an outsider with no connection to Worcester kids in. The Telegram and Gazette has been all over her too, as well known racist Clive McFarlane simply cannot accept the fact that a white woman is leading the schools. That’s why they banned me from commenting on their Facebook page – because they don’t want dissent. They want to control the narrative. They want to use their platform to make uninformed folks think that the superintendent is a racist.
The School Committee needs to take a stand on this. We know that Dante Comparetto, who is the mouthpiece for these activists, wants her gone. But thus far people like Molly McCullough have been very quiet. We messaged her yesterday for comment and she gave us this nonsense:
Disappointing to say the least. Those who oppose her aren’t afraid to speak out. It would be nice to have politicians who weren’t afraid of the mob.
If you had Mrs. Binienda as a principal, or had any interaction with her (particularly if you are a person of color who wants to combat this narrative), feel free to shoot us an email at [email protected]
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