Many readers may be aware of the plight of Merrie Najimy, a third grade teacher and president of the local teacher union in Concord, Massachusetts. She has been a teacher in Concord for 25 years, having always received glowing satisfactory ratings from her past principals.
With the advent of a new superintendent’s administration, a new principal was appointed to her school with an apparent mission to rid the school of veteran teachers and those active in the union.
Now, before anti-union readers dismiss Najimy as a nefarious due-collecting chief, it should be noted that teachers and students in Massachusetts have gained the distinction for having some of our nation’s highest standards AND achievement. If Massachusetts were its own country, its students’ performance on the international TIMS and PISA would rank near the top, with Finland. Concord is no exception to this trend of Massachusetts performance, and Najimy’s work over the past few years has helped facilitate the continuation of this trend. It is safe to say that Najimy’s work as a union president has been beneficial to the education system.
This is why it was so shocking to Najimy, her colleagues, parents in the community, and students, when she suddenly received less-than-satisfactory ratings this school year, was put on an improvement plan, and was ultimately recommended for non-renewal of contract. Najimy’s struggles have since become publicized by the Boston Globe, and on Diane Ravitch’s Blog. It has also led to public protests at Najimy’s school, and at the office of her superintendent. Finally, a petition has gone viral, with 1,342 signatures, to support the reinstatement of Najimy’s position as a teacher in Concord.
In an interview with atthechalkface.com, Najimy speculated that the targeted retribution was politically motivated because many of the superintendent’s initiatives (essentially turning the system into an “assessment warehouse”) are unpopular with teachers and the community, and that she was in the best position to oppose those measures. Removing Najimy would allow the superintendent to act unilaterally, without input from teachers and community members.
This interview is very much worth reading, and demonstrates the danger of leaving policy decisions that govern teachers and students solely in the hands of administrators – and no input from professional educators and taxpayers in the community.
To read the interview, click HERE.