Pols-in-schools plan gains backers

WORCESTER—Critics of state Sen. Guy W. Glodis’ attempt to dismantle the state’s Transitional Bilingual Program would love to see Mr. Glodis teach a bilingual class.

Such an experience, they argue, would give the Worcester Democrat a different perspective on bilingual education.

However, unless you consider teaching in English bilingual, Mr. Glodis said he is not likely to change his mind that immersing non-English-speaking students in regular classroom work is the best course of action for them.

Mr. Glodis, nevertheless, said he supports Mayor Raymond V. Mariano’s efforts to lure elected officials into teaching a course at least once a year in one of the city’s secondary schools. Mr. Mariano, who did not seek re-election this year, has asked School Superintendent James A. Caradonio to create a program that would allow elected officials to pull classroom duties at the middle and high school levels.

It would be an honorable duty,” Mr. Glodis said of the idea of teaching secondary students.

It would present some scheduling challenges for state legislators, but it is incumbent on elected officials to be committed to working with young people,” he said.

I have periodically visited schools and talked to students about being involved in government. It is just good public policy. You shouldn’t have to tell or mandate legislators to do so,” the senator said.

Mr. Mariano said the idea came out of his experience interacting with the various constituencies he served as mayor.

He recalled that when he first became major, he visited every department, performing such tasks as riding on the city’s garbage trucks and walking the beat with police officers.

I saw those jobs and responsibilities in a way I had not seen them before,” he said.

As policy makers, we sometimes fashion policies that have teachers saying, That does not make sense,’ ” Mr. Mariano said. I believe that if you are in the classroom, you would not propose such policies.”

Mr. Mariano said he is asking elected officials to do more than pay casual visits to schools.

When you conduct tours of schools, they are ready for you. The children are on their best behavior,” he said.

I want the city councilor or the legislator to see kids with their heads on the desk,” he said. I want them to get these kids to pick their heads up and get excited about learning.”

Councilor-at-Large Konstantina B. Lukes, a former School Committee member, was trained as a teacher before becoming a lawyer. If elected officials are to do a good job of teaching a class or course, she said, they will need some preparation.

Elected officials who moonlight as instructors would need to become familiar with the school system’s curriculum, discipline and behavior codes, Ms. Lukes said.

The biggest challenge for an elected official moonlighting as a secondary school instructor would be classroom management, she said.

Three-quarters of what you do is classroom management and discipline,” said Ms. Lukes, whose first order as a member of the School Committee was to request a report on student attacks against teachers.

The academic portion seems like a luxury sometimes,” she said. The problems facing schools are enormous. Teachers have really become surrogate parents.”

Despite the challenges, Ms. Lukes said, teaching a course would be a great experience.

Others, such as School Committee member Kathleen M. Toomey, a former teacher, said as long as they are not expected to teach a full semester of MCAS-heavy courses,” elected officials should be able to teach a course successfully.

City Councilor Juan Gomez has experience teaching, having substituted at all levels in the school system.

It is an excellent idea,” he said. It is an opportunity to bring forth to the next generation some of the wisdom we have gained.”

Former state Sen. William Glodis Jr., father of Guy Glodis and the father of the state’s anti-bilingual movement, believes elected officials may be able to get through to some hard-to-reach students.

To get elected, you have to be street-smart, tough, educated, and you have to work hard at it,” he said. I think kids understand that, and would love the hands-on experience we bring to the classroom.”

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