Students at Jacqueline Walsh Arts School for the Performing and Visual Arts (JMW) in Pawtucket are protesting the suspension of William Ashton, a favorite English teacher. About 30 students gathered on the sidewalk before and after school to demand Ashton’s immediate reinstatement. Spokespersons Hope Norton and Maggie Roberts vow that the protests will continue until Ashton is back.
According to students, William Ashton was escorted off the school premises by “people in suits” after he told students that school funding will not be affected by student’s opting out of the controversial PARCC testing. Another teacher had informed the students that if 95 percent of the students did not take the test, funding would be cut and the school would be closed. After telling his students that this wasn’t the case, Ashton was escorted from the school grounds halfway through the next period.
Calls and emails to the office of Pawtucket School Superintendent Patti DiCenso have gone unanswered.
The kids have shown a real talent for organizing and utilizing online social networks. The BRING BACK MR. ASHTON Facebook page has 2,300+ likes as of this writing and an online petition has 600+ signatures. The kids have developed a Twitter hashtag, #BringBackAshton and have collected hundreds of dollars on GoFundMe for tee shirts.
From everyone I talked to I got the impression that William Ashton is exactly the kind of teacher you want in your school. After watching the video, consider contacting Superintendent DiCenso (401-729-6332 / firstname.lastname@example.org) and supporting these kids.