EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA


May 12, 2013

Editorial: Time to reinvent the Lawrence School Committee


District F incumbent James Blatchford, who is seeking another term, summed it up well: “The state takeover emphasized how much people don’t care that much about Lawrence Public Schools and how there’s no emphasis on the schools in they eyes of people in Lawrence.”

Not one member of the committee has a child in the public school system it runs.

Nor does the government escape blame.

The disintegration of the School Committee and the school system accelerated in the early 2000’s when the U.S. Justice Department came to town to “fix” what it thought was wrong.

It pressured the city into electing committee members by district rather than at-large. The idea was to elect more Hispanics. It was a pointless exercise since Hispanics at the time already represented the majority of residents and voters citywide.

Carving up the city into districts only served to suppress the competition for School Committee seats, further depressing voter turnout and helping elect more incompetents to the committee.

The state cited the dysfunctional nature of the School Committee as one of the reasons for overriding the normal democratic process and stepping in to run the schools.

The point of the state school takeover is to reinvent the school system in Lawrence so that it better serves the city’s children and their parents, something that was badly needed.

The School Committee also needs to be reinvented so that it is relevant again and answers to the needs of those it is supposed to serve.

In the meantime, is it any wonder no one cares to run?

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