WORCESTER – With the municipal election five weeks away, the Educational Association of Worcester [EAW] has announced which candidates it is endorsing for School Committee.
“We would like to announce that we unanimously voted to endorse Dante Comparetto and Jack Foley. We are also endorsing Brian O’Connell. We believe these individuals’ values most closely mirror that of the EAW,“ EAW President Roger Nugent said in a released statement on Tuesday, Oct. 3.
In an interview with ThisWeekinWorcester.com on Tuesday evening, Nugent explained that the EAW formed a committee to select the candidates for endorsement. The teachers’ union brought in people from across different curriculum – math, history, arts, etc. They developed their own criteria and questions and took questions from non union members.
The committee asked the candidates questions on hiring more diverse administrators, whether or not the City of Worcester should expand its PILOT [payment in lieu of taxes] program, and what the city should do to expand the public school systems funding.
According to Nugent, voting for endorsements wasn’t close to a tie and there wasn’t a fourth candidate in the running for an endorsement from the EAW.
O’Connell, who is a fixture on the School Committee and is seeking his eighteenth term said, “I am pleased by the EAW’s decision to endorse me. We can now work hand in hand on making our schools better.”
Comparetto, who is seeking his first public office and is the only challenger among the candidates, said, “It’s an honor to have their support. I have been working side by side with them over the years. Together we will continue our fight to ensure that all children have access to the best education in the Commonwealth.”
Foley is seeking his tenth term on the council and was not immediately available for comment.
The four candidates that were not endorsed by the EAW this election were endorsed by the EAW during the 2015 election when there were 10 candidates running for office.
The four members that were not endorsed were John Monfredo, Dianna Biancheria, Molly McCullough and Colorio. All four said that the endorsements were political payback.
“I believe the EAW endorsement was purely political this year. I am a School Committee member that is also currently an MTA member,” School Committee member Donna Colorio said in an e-mail on October 3.
“I’m upset for there is no one on the school committee that does more for teachers and children than me,” Monfredo said in an email. “It’s payback by the EAW!”
Monfredo is referring to the recently agreed upon contract between the EAW and the Worcester Public Schools that nearly led to a strike during the summer.
“I am appalled that EAW endorsements do not include women, who have worked hard for our schools, our students and our teachers,” Biancheria said. “I will continue to stand with any WPS employee who will stand with me.”
“I stand for women who are confident enough to run for office as I also stand for men who are confident enough to run for office,” Biancheria added.
“It is unclear to me why I did not receive the EAW endorsement this year; though I did two years ago. My support of teachers and advocacy for increased funding to hire additional staff members is a priority as a member of the school committee. I believe in the power of effective teachers and the positive difference they can make in their students’ lives,” McCullough said in an e-mail.
The EAW conducted interviews with all the candidates at its office on Grove Street on Monday October 2. A vote was taken by its nine committee members and Comparetto and Foley, who did not receive the EAW endorsement 2 years ago, were voted on unanimously.
The EAW is the largest local of the Massachusetts Teachers Association. They represent approximately 2,800 members in 5 bargaining units: Teachers and Group B Administrators, Education Support Professionals, Bus Drivers, Parent Liaisons, and ESL Tutors.