It is time to let the School Committee do its job
Over the last week, I have followed the evolving story of Superintendent Buckey’s contract negotiation with an increasing sense of dismay and disappointment as passions and emotions have clouded judgment and erased any appearance of neutrality and decorum.
In all school districts, parental involvement is not only common, it’s necessary. Involved parents are the force behind the spirit of a school. They put their time and talents to work with fundraising and volunteering, they turn up in school colours to cheer at games, they buy tickets to concerts & school plays and give enthusiastic standing ovations to the performers & the amazing staff that always goes above and beyond what is asked of them. A district that does not have involved parents is unlikely to succeed.
However, in the Marblehead Public School system, the boundary between parental involvement and undue influence has been blurred and is contributing to a crisis of its own creation.
For any elected official, exposing oneself to public disapproval is an accepted, if uncomfortable, occupational hazard. Yet what our School Committee has been subjected to this week by a cohort that seeks to exert influence has been intolerable. From personal attacks and insults published online for the world to see, to violations of privacy and sneaky acts of intimidation, this has crossed the line between disapproval to abuse.
As a community, we’ve been divided before; we are not a monolith. We practice different religions, we vote for different parties, we eat steak, we are vegans and we are passionate about our schools and what our children are learning...but never before have we seen such a relentless and coordinated campaign of vitriol against our duly elected School Committee by parents, town officials and others. This School Committee is not in place by accident; they ran for election, won in some cases by an overwhelming margin and are now tasked with doing a job few would envy. But it seems that envy and anger is driving a stake into the very heart of our schools and it’s tearing our town apart. Any person with an ounce of self-awareness who might benefit from these acts would distance themselves from this bitterness and call for this to stop.
Our School Committee has made a very difficult decision under very difficult circumstances. It should be noted that this decision will be welcomed by many people who are reluctant to speak out in support due to the fear of retaliation or social ostracism. However, I have faith that this decision reflects what the majority of the School Committee believe will be best for our district in the long term even if it is unpopular within a group that fears change.
It is time to let the School Committee do their job. And anyone who would like to be part of that committee in the future is welcome to launch their campaign at any time, hopefully with dignity and respect for the people they may end up serving with.