Two Boston High Schools: Will Axing Teachers Fix the Problems?

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Boston school officials got an earful Wednesday night from critics of a coming reorganization of two city high schools that could see most of their teachers gone next year.

Brighton High School and Excel High School in South Boston are on opposite sides of the city, but they share a substandard designation from the state. Both were deemed so-called Level 4 schools this past fall, meaning state education officials think they need drastic intervention.

About two weeks ago Boston Superintendent Tommy Chang notified teachers at the two schools that if they want to stay there they must re-apply for their jobs. He has that discretionary authority when the state puts a school in the Level 4 category, which calls for a shakeup.

It isn’t sitting well with teachers and students.

Dan Ordorica, a former teacher at Excel who is now a first-year student at Boston University Law School, lambasted what he called “this absolutely terrible decision.”

“It’s all based on the old lie that if there’s a problem at a school it must be the teachers’ fault,” Ordorica said.

Thi Ho, a Vietnamese junior, said when he arrived at the school he had few skills.

“When I first came here I didn’t know anything,” he said in a heavy Vietnamese accent, with four other Vietnamese students standing behind him. “… “The teacher[s] taught us how to act, how to speak.”

“We don’t want to have new teacher,” he said. “… We want to have our current teacher. We love them and we need them.”

In all, nine teachers and nine students appeared before the Boston School Committee at Bruce C. Bolling Municipal Building in Roxbury to decry the decision, most from Excel. No parents of students at either school spoke.

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