By Member Voice
Editor’s note- we have printed the Press Release from Member Voice in its entirety.
Member Voice seeks a retraction of prior public comments from educational Association of Worcester (EAW) President Roger Nugent, a statement supporting the Black Lives Matter movement, and assurances that the union will push the district to eradicate systemic racism from Worcester Public Schools.
A group of Worcester Public Schools (WPS) employees has sent a letter signed by 60 members to Educational Association of Worcester (EAW) leadership expressing “deep concerns, frustrations, and embarrassment over the recent public statements made by our EAW President, Roger Nugent.”
The group of educators, called Member Voice, was a grassroots group which formed to address issues of racism in the WPS. Member Voice reconvened to create a response to a June 13 article in the Worcester Telegram & Gazette in which Nugent said – without a poll or meeting of union members as evidence – that “the vast majority of teachers support having [School Resource] officers in the schools.” This statement came during incredible social unrest following the deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor, and during increasing public debate about the size and scope of the local police budget. EAW leadership has made broad claims and endorsements several times in the past two years, damaging our
relationship with the community and particularly with families of color.
So far, EAW leadership has met our demands with mostly silence:
• On July 7, Member Voice sent the letter calling for a retraction of the EAW President’s June 13th statements and a public statement supporting the Black Lives Matter movement.
• On July 10, EAW leadership — without any communication to Member Voice — released a poorly written, hastily executed poll asking membership their opinions on the Black Lives Matter movement and police unions. EAW members only had two days to fill out the poll. The EAW has not made those results public.
• As of August 2, 2020 there has been neither a response to the demands sent in the letter nor a release of the results of the EAW poll.
It is the opinion of Member Voice and our allies in the WPS that the current EAW leadership has abdicated their responsibility to make public statements that are beneficial to our students and our schools’ cultures. Refusal to acknowledge racism is participation in systemic racism. To start to repair this damage, Member Voice plans to hold virtual town halls and community forums on systemic racism in schools and work internally within the EAW to address how future statements made by leadership are more representative and supportive of the diverse views of the union’s 3,000 members.