An Open Letter to Haverhill Teachers from a Silver Hill Parent

silverhilllogoIn fact, it feels like a classic misdirection. Look over there at Silver Hill and miss that the City budget once again underfunds Haverhill Public Schools. Be distracted and miss the MTAs involvement and political agenda at a local level.

Real legitimate challenges exist across all Haverhill Public Schools. Resources, staffing, class size, infrastructure, mandates, professional development all exist—at every school for every teacher. Real. Legitimate. Challenges.

And Silver Hill shares those same challenges. Potholed parking lot. Yup. Understaffed. Yes. Tight classrooms. Sure, you name it. And yes, less diverse than it could be. Over 74 percent of Silver Students come from the Mount Washington neighborhood in which it sits—it serves its neighborhood—and with more applicants the school could be even more diverse.

Silver Hill has an aggressive recruitment and retention plan that addresses what it does, can and should do to publicize the required blind lottery citywide. (Anyone ever ask the Mayor or Superintendent, or Leadership of HEA what they do to publicize Silver Hill and the lottery, open to every resident across the City who enters?) Maybe a positive outcome from this situation is increased awareness of the school as an option and hence more applicants in 2018.

Real legitimate challenges. Ask any Haverhill teacher. But Silver Hill’s charter is neither the cause nor the solution for those valid challenges shared by teachers citywide. The same issues existed before this charter and would undoubtedly remain after it. The true cause, and the remedy I believe, is adequate City funding of Haverhill Public Schools. Specifically, more, and more precisely allocated, funding for Haverhill Public Schools as detailed by the Haverhill Education Coalition.

Imagine, for all the time and effort the officers of the HEA have invested in practicing politics for the MTA, if all that effort had been invested lobbying the Mayor to increase the education budget to a level commensurate with other leading gateway cities with similar demographics—what could have been achieved for teachers and classrooms in the 2017-18 budget.

Silver Hill’s incredible turnaround story over the past decade from failing, on the brink of receivership, to today Level 1 performing, is due overwhelming to it’s phenomenal HEA educators and autonomy granted via its charter. The unique social-emotional curriculum has given Haverhill parents a choice of something different for their children. It’s a thriving inclusive community. Today Special Education Students make up 17.2 percent of Silver Hills enrollment, exceeding that of another nearby public elementary school. Ninety-six percent of HEA teachers at Silver Hill voted in May to pursue charter renewal.

On Thursday, the entire membership of the HEA has the opportunity to weigh in and reject misdirection, and reaffirm the progress made, and signal support for plans to make Silver Hill an even stronger school community going forward.

I believe educators citywide will stand with their union colleagues at Silver Hill, and vote Yes for charter renewal, reject the Old Politics, and send a clear message back to HEA Leadership to stop doing the MTA’s bidding, and focus again on lobbying the City Administration to adequately fund Haverhill Public Schools, a move that would actually seek to address the many challenges facing City teachers and students.

Thank you teachers for what you do every day—and have a great Summer! We parents promise to make sure all of that summer reading gets done!


Mike Murphy
SH Parent of two currently enrolled students

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