Hopeful Signs For Montclair Schools: Evidence of Actual Collaboration?

As Baristanet has aptly summarized, it’s been an unnecessarily contentious year for the school district, with way too many fights being picked.

So it’s a pleasant surprise to read about some progress being made, with MEA Union President Gayl Shepard and Superintendent Penny MacCordmack actually working together on something:

Starting the upcoming school year off on more positive note, the Montclair School District and Montclair Education Association(MEA) today announced that a collaborative task force has developed an educational framework for the 2014-2015 school year. The overriding goal of the task force was to create an agreed upon plan for providing a quality educational experience for all Montclair Public School students.

The task force was put together by MEA President Gayl Shepard and Montclair Schools Superintendent Penny MacCormack, who selected, evenly, the 26 members who met in May and June.

According to the press release, the framework was created for all students from k – 12th grades and will be used as a road map for educators.

Certainly, it’s a welcome departure from some of the past comments, snipes, etc. from Shepard, and hopefully the tone and approach (at least what we’re able to garner of it from the press release) will continue. 

“This task force came about because of specific concerns brought to the attention of the Montclair Board of Education by the MEA members during the 2013-2014 school year. The three frameworks are living documents, which will be used and modified by teachers and staff. I look forward to working with the administration and educators, as we continue to develop the framework,” said Ms. Shepard. “Dr. MacCormack and I are committed to working together to address and solve district challenges. I greatly appreciate the members of the task force who volunteered their time and imparted their educational knowledge with the goal of providing the highest quality education for all students.”

Maybe this is what Shepard meant when she said she would work more collaboratively, and we’re certainly glad to finally see some evidence of it! 

We’re sure that the road ahead will have more bumps and debate, but the key takeaway from this release is that teachers and the administrators have agreed to march along in the same direction, if not quite in exact step.

We here at Montclair Schools Watch are eternal optimists, but we occasionally temper our thoughts with realism. The reality is there are still conflicts and disagreements waiting to shake out (ie contract negotiations this fall). When they do we will still add our commentary, unfiltered as always. But if Shepard and MacCormack can keep on this path, we expect (and certainly prefer!) to write more posts like this one. Kudos to both for working together.

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