Last spring, JOIN alumni Dan Lesser and Liz Aeschlimann’s work with the United Interfaith Action (UIA) to agitate, inspire, and develop leadership in New Bedford was met with success. The UIA proposed that New Bedford restructure the school system by creating small, autonomous schools throughout the district to battle low graduation and high dropout rates. Under the UIA’s plan, the autonomous schools would still be unionized and part of the district, though principals and teachers would control budget and hiring. Meeting with over 600 parents, teachers, and students at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church, Mayor Lang and School Superintendent Francis along with School Committee said they would support the plan.
A vote in December provided the mechanism for the introduction of small autonomous schools into the city as soon as September 2013.