Wednesday, April 3, 2019
Statement by The Rev. Nathan D. Pipho

I join my colleagues of Worcester Interfaith, and fellow members of the Worcester Coalition for Education Equity, in calling for [1] the end of Maureen Binienda’s service as Superintendent of the Worcester Public Schools, [2] the hiring of a Chief Diversity Officer, and [3] the prohibition of disproportionate disciplinary removals of students of color and students with physical disabilities.

I am convinced these steps are necessary because of empirical data, supplemented by too many real life stories, showing racial disparities in the treatment of our students of color and students with physical disabilities. This is of grave concern to me that must be met with immediate bold, unequivocal, and decisive action.

Tellingly, Superintendent Binienda’s initial response to our concerns calling us “not well informed,” shows a community leader unwilling, or unable, to respond to this issue. Dismissing our concerns highlights the failure of Superintendent Binienda to maintain the trust and respect of other community leaders necessary for establishing community partnerships crucial for reforming the Worcester Public Schools and providing equitable education for students of color.

As a faith leader in the City of Worcester, I am motivated by Christian scripture that describes the people of God as “that great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages” (Revelation 7:9).  When students in our school system face different treatment because of their skin color or physical ability, demonic cracks appear in holy community.  When public leaders dismiss legitimate concerns raised about the treatment of God’s children in the Worcester Public Schools, we turn our backs on holy community.  When we fail the least among us, we fail Jesus Christ himself.

For these reasons, I call for action.  We need a new Superintendent with a proven record of leading a multicultural and multiethnic educational institution. We need a Chief Diversity Officer for the Worcester Public Schools to ensure that issues of racial equity are kept in the forefront of the school system. We need to end inequitable treatments of students of color and students with physical disabilities in our schools so that all of our children are afforded the education they deserve.

Now is not the time for talk. Now is the time for action.