Some Facts About The Campaign:
- I am one of the few candidates, for elected office in Newton, that has a senior citizen serving as their Treasurer.
- I am in favor of later start times for high school students specifically, and consider implementing them an immediate priority. I have held this opinion since 2015 (16:30), after seeing the negative impact of the current start times firsthand.
- I am in favor of mandatory basic financial literacy classes for all students.
- I am one of if not the only School Committee candidate who campaigns directly to students, so as to hear their opinions on matters. This is how I learned about the serious drug use problems, in our schools, that are in need of immediate discussion at the minimum.
- I am one of the few candidates who publishes their personal cell phone number (617-823-2556). Please feel free to call me anytime to share your opinion on the NPS.
- I am a 2015 Newton North High School graduate (Bigelow ’11, Cabot ’08) and a lifelong resident of the Garden City.
If elected to the School Committee, before making any decisions I will ask myself how students will be impacted by any decision, period! Only then will I factor in parents, faculty and the rest of the community.
Part of what makes a successful team leader is their ability to reach across the aisle to come up with solutions to pressing issues, which is why compromising will be the name of the game.
If I have the privilege of serving on the School Committee, my number one goal will be ensuring the health and safety of every student, faculty, parent and community member in the city of Newton.
Recently, the YRBS, a survey that the NPS is mandated to give, showed that over 1,300 brave young high school students self-reported that they do not have even one ally at the school who they can talk to if they have a problem. I have never heard this number shared at a School Committee meeting, and it is not hard to figure out why. Instead, the School Committee would prefer to put numbers like the one shared above into graphs to hide the actual number, but show a slight decrease in percentage over many years.
The Newton Public Schools have provided me with a great education, but I know solutions to the mounting issues they face are just a former student’s opinion away.
I am also in favor of mandatory financial literacy classes for all students.
Under my plan, all students must graduate high school with a basic understanding of financial literacy. This includes knowing the difference between APR and APY, how to use a credit card, and how to navigate the world past high school.
While the math department at both schools has tried to slowly integrate minor financial literacy knowledge into their curriculum in the months before a student graduates, it is simply not enough. We have world class business teachers (teachers with advanced degrees) in the high schools, who only some of the students get to interact with. Every student deserves a chance to grasp an understanding of basic financial literacy. “For people—especially young people—to survive and thrive in today’s financial environment, knowledge of personal finance is a necessity.” – Annamaria Lusard, Denit Trust chair of economics and accountancy at the GeorgeWashington University School of Business.
Keeping on the topic of money, the Newton Public Schools routinely report a deficit in budget proposals for the city. Spending on schools has gone up by exorbitant rates because the School Committee negotiates in a position of weakness and complacency when dealing with smaller unions and contracts. For example, when a custodian makes over $125,000 a year, change in needed.
Additionally, if athletic fees were removed from high school sports, Newton could let students playing sports be exempt from their physical education classes, potentially saving the city thousands in teaching costs and helping physical education teachers focus on those who need the support.
This type of creative thinking could bring outside the box ideas to the School Committee that are desperately needed to save the city resources and money.
This academic year, the School Committee decided to choose Sodexo, a company known for supplying prison food, as the new food supplier in the schools. A current School Committee member recently said, “Sodexo and Whitsons before them have been break-even leaving NPS with $1 million more annually to spend on our core mission, teaching our kids.” Wrong!
Healthy eating is vital for all students and is part of a well-balanced education. It is easy to try to nickel-and-dime your way when you do not have to eat food in the schools daily, but many Newton students rely on their breakfast and lunch as their most nutritious meals of the day.
Any open-bid contract should include specific healthy options for all students. Newton should be following groundwork laid out by small liberal arts colleges like Bowdoin, which include local and organic options, not outsourcing more jobs just to buy a few more outdated and overpriced textbooks!
Just weeks after ending my 2015 campaign, the Newton Public Schools started exploring the option of having later start times. After careful consideration, including talking to students and parents around the city, I have concluded that I am in favor of scenario B, which starts the high schools at 8:30am. That plan is not perfect, far from it actually, but I believe it will have a net positive effect for the residents of Newton.
If elected, one recommendation I would have for each School Committee member is to meet with at least one student in the schools and have them present their opinion to the School Committee before deciding on anything. I wouldn’t be surprised if some School Committee members have only been looking at the data and have yet to have a sit down discussion with even a single student. A real travesty!
One thing to note, it is very important that whichever start time is instituted stresses that school related sports, clubs, extra help etc. are not to take place before school. Many faculty members are likely to see the late start as a reason students should show up before school to get work done. This would defeat the purpose of pushing back the start time and must be adequately addressed with the implementation of any of the proposals. Please see this feature from the American Psychological Association for more information on this issue.
Lastly, one way to make up some time would be to get rid of the yearly six teacher’s development half-days. Many parents are inconvenienced with having to pick up their children in the middle of the day, and many students receive just minutes of actual classroom time.
Instead of the current system, three full days could be granted to the teachers for development, with potentially the three other days becoming full days or adding three days at the end of the year. This could free up to 10 minutes daily to start school later. To offset any additional teacher union cost, .2 students could be added for every 20, a very fair sounding compromise to help balance out the start times. Update: It looks like there will be no movement until the 2019/2020 academic year, at the earliest. This is unacceptable.
Thank you for reading my opinions on some of the more well known and lesser known issues impacting our students, teachers, faculty, and residents of Newton. If you have any questions and ideas, please feel free to contact me. Your opinion is very important to me. There are more issues than the ones mentioned above and I certainly have opinions on other topics such as college admission standards, the Day Middle School graffiti incident and handling, the overreach of House Deans at the high schools, the lack of outside opportunity to middle schoolers etc.
“The School Committee in each city and town and each regional school district shall have the power to select and to terminate the Superintendent; shall review and approve budgets for public education in the district, and shall establish educational goals and policies for the schools in the district, consistent with the requirements of law and state-wide goals and standards established by the Board of Education.” – The Education Reform Act of 1993, Ch. 71. S. 37
A quote from philosopher and educator Paulo Freire:
“Leaders who do not act dialogically, but insist on imposing their decisions, do not organize the people–they manipulate them. They do not liberate, nor are they liberated: they oppress.”