Monday, May 16, 2011

Lynn, MA School Committee Election 2011

Ah.... the smell of politician is in the air as another fun filled election season is upon us. Fundraiser after fundraiser with Haddock dinner at Porthole to plates of spaghetti at Old Tyme Italian to the new and trendy artisan pizza at Turbine Wine Bar.  It seems wherever you go these past few months, you run into the politicos and their supporters.

My task over the next 5 months is to help you figure out which circle to fill in. We'll get to vote for a certain number of people for School Committee and a certain number of people for Councilor-at-Large. We don't have to vote for that many. Let's only fill in the circles next to the names we believe in. Promise?

To that end, I've searched high and low for the School Committee candidates on social networks and the city website. If they have a Campaign page or Facebook profile I could find I assume they are running and want people to know about it. If they didn't have a campaign page I could find, I assume they could care less about whether or not they get elected. I found Charlie Gallo, John Ford, Maria Carrasco, Rick Starbard, and Dolores DiFilipo. Any others out there, please feel free to contact me with an email address using the Contact link above. I'm not transcribing a phone call. Sorry. It's 2011.

I asked each of them three questions.

1. Tell us a little about yourself. Where did you grow up? Where did you go to school? What on your resume or in your life experience makes you qualified for this office?

2. Why did you choose to run for School Committee?

3. What do you see that is in most need of change? How will you change it?

If you're also running for school committee and just haven't told anyone yet ;-) please send along your answers as well. I will post unedited over the next few months. 



  1. Corey maybe you could start by answering your own questions to get the banter going.

  2. I'm not running for office but I can answer part of 1 and have an ignorant take on #3. Here goes.

    I grew up in Peabody with 4 grandparents in Lynn so I spent much of my childhood on Essex Street and up in the Highlands. I went to Peabody High School and then on to Syracuse University where I studied Information Management and Computer Science and came one course shy of a minor in Economics. Came back to Boston and rented in Watertown for many years while working in the dot com bubble days for ZDNet in Cambridge. When looking to buy I wanted a loft like conversion in an up and coming creative neighborhood. Throughout Peabody, Syracuse, and Watertown I was very involved with music and theatre and wanted to continue that wherever I landed.

    I now am Managing Director of Arts After Hours which is producing several one night visual art events and it's first full scale musical from June 10-19th. I still work in the computer field by day and try to be as active as I can in knowing what's going on in our local government.

    #2 - Does not apply

    #3 - I have no clue! One thing I hear a lot is that "you don't want to send your kids to school in Lynn" from way too many Lynners. No one can really say why. I'm sure there are issues, but there seem to be a lot of fantastic schools as well.

    I believe education is extremely important. I'm constantly amazed at the breadth of topics that get brought to school committee discussions, including land disputes, building and parking issues in addition to the more important piece of making our schools better. I'm very much looking forward to the various answers we get from the candidates.

  3. Interesting.
    Did you ask the parents what the issues are in Lynn Schools? More often than not...
    class size, % of people on the free lunch program (this stat is a base line for judging backgrounds such as low education, single parent households, lack of father or fathers due to women fathering children with several men)etc, problematic children in the schools etc) One hates to stereotype but the truth is the lower income and lower education level people bring a new set of issues to the Lynn schools. Once school starts at 6 there are a large range of students who are at different levels, you have kids who have never seen a classroom or who speak a native language in the same classroom as children who have been in school since they were 3, there is a lack of a lunch room(kids eat in their classrooms at some schools, no indoor gym, no outdoor play areas with grass at many others)
    Parents who have the choice move or send to private schools. A huge majority of the schools are at failing levels.
    I am sure there are some good schools and teachers but what we need to make the city schools better is a base of educated people buying houses who have a vested interest in staying in the community.

    Parents just cannot see their children being used as a social experiment, therefore most make other arrangements other than LPS.
    The issues you seem to hit on in your #3 answer are right on the target.

    St. Pius is an affordable option for many.

  4. A quote and reply feature would be useful here. I went through the Lynn school system from 1990 - 1999 when I chose to leave for a private high school. The decision was entirely my own because I wanted the most challenging academic experience I could find. I did not leave because I (or my parents) felt the school system was particularly poor. On the contrary, my experiences were very positive throughout the 8 years I attended a Lynn public school.

    Granted, once I left I could see the glaring differences between what I had previously assumed was rigorous school work and what I was learning in private school. However, I was more than prepared to take on the challenges offered by a top-notch private high school.

    I think there is some validity to your post Anonymous, but my major issue is your proposed solution, "...what we need to make the city schools better is a base of educated people buying houses..." That type of response essentially says "We'll have a better school system when we get rid of the poor people," or as you may put it, the "free lunchers."

    A solid base of educated home owners already exists in Lynn. A struggling working class also exists in Lynn, and in increasingly many ways these groups overlap. The best solution embraces what Lynn is and what Lynn has to offer. I lived in Brooklyn, NY for the past four years before coming back to Lynn, and in that time I watched the spirit of entire communities get wiped away by an influx of educated homeowners. That is not what Lynn, or any up-and-coming neighborhood, needs. We must maintain the current social, economic, and cultural balance that makes Lynn the awesome place that it already is, while doing a better job of empowering the communities that already exist but struggle to make ends meet. When we can fund more amazing creative, supportive programs for Lynn youth and their families we will see true improvement in not only our school system but in every aspect of society.

  5. PS - Just to be clear, classrooms full of 6 years olds who speak different languages and have wildly different backgrounds is one of the strengths of the Lynn School system. Exposure to so much diversity is good for all of us. We need to equip our teaches with the resources necessary for managing these types of classrooms. Lynn schools already offer many programs for non-native speakers from all over the world. Again, this is a strength of the system, not a short-coming or fault of some kind.

  6. So much so a strength it shows in the top notch scores.
    When you have kids you can sign them up for this. A child who enters preschool at 2.9 and know their ABCs and colors is at one level a child who has no idea how to write their name and cannot speak English is another. They teach to the lowest common level and the child who has the schooling prior to gets to learn his colors again?

    You have bright dreams now turn them into a possibility. Show me one school system in the US like Lynn where 95+% of the families are at the poverty level that is excelling. Perhaps not fair but how the world is.

    Kids get diversity everywhere these days even in rural places. The world is a big mixing pot. That line is getting old in Lynn, diversity exists everywhere. Sadly large class size and poor and children coming from backgrounds where there are absentee parents, parents on drugs, or in abusive situations carry another set of problems. Until that segment of the population is fixed then people who are educated or value education leave.

  7. Yes the incoming children are at drastically different levels, and teaching to the lowest common denominator is not the answer, obviously. Neither is teaching to the brightest and ignoring the rest. To be blunt your comments come across as deeply prejudicial and poorly informed. It seems as though you are saying, “Once we get rid of these losers, the rest of us will be fine,” and that’s just not an accurate assessment of the situation in Lynn or any place. Do we need to have smaller classes? Yes. Do we achieve that by kicking the poor and disadvantaged out of the school systems? No.

    Also, what does “until that segment of the population is fixed…” even mean? Do you understand that many people in the situations you are talking about are in those situations because of larger societal problems? People dealing with drug abuse, domestic violence, and absentee parenting are not The Problem and don’t need to be “fixed.” The root causes (i.e. unequal access to education, unequal distribution of wealth, etc.) of those behaviors need to be fixed, not the people who suffer from them.

    I have a taste for the reality of the society we live in, nationally and locally speaking, after all I did have the benefit of growing up in Lynn. I know my comments reek of idealism, but we need to fundamentally change our priorities if we ever want to elevate our society as a whole. This kind of elitist attitude only continues the cycle of neglect and inequality. It’s our city, our population; let’s embrace the reality of what it is and work to raise everyone to a higher level. As long as we keep fighting over scraps and putting down our neighbors no one will ever be satisfied.

  8. I'd have to agree with brendon on this one. To remove specific demographics from a neighborhood is certainly not the answer. If this ever were a viable solution, wouldn't it also be true that the same discussion we are having now would eventually befall another community who would then host these displaced people groups?

    Reform must come from within. In essence, inclusion must be exercised while attitudes similar to Anonymous' need to be excluded.

    I also like how Anonymous started to utilize proper paragraph format after brendon did. Maybe that's not the only thing (s)he should follow as well.

  9. Brendon running for office?

  10. No, just an idealistic, young Lynner posting my thoughts. If I was though, would I have your vote Sandie? =)

  11. Good conversation. Your comments help to clarify my own views, Bendon. It's great to see them articulated so well.


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