This business of the School Committee asking for a budget override, not for a building, but for people to teach and inspire our children. I like the idea, but am waiting to find out more details of exactly what will be proposed.
I think so much of my reaction to this proposition comes from having a child go through the public school system in Newburyport, and be someone who is grateful for it. And realizing that my son would not be graduating from college this May without all the guardian angels that he had all through the public school system.
I feel very strongly about public education, feeling philosophically that public education is good, not just for lower or middle income families, but for upper income families as well. As well as for children of different learning skills.
I went to a private school for 12 years, and I think my son got a much better education “in life” than I did. Also, when he went to college, he really appreciated all that it had to offer, and never took things for granted the way I’ve seen some young adults who came from a private school education.
The public school system for me represents part of the “American Experience,” Liberal Democrat that I am. I think it’s important for children of a variety of different backgrounds to learn together, so that when they leave, they have some hope of an unconscious appreciation of each other’s differences. Instead of feeling that they may be “special” and others are not.
However, when I lived in Newburyport and did not have a child, I would not have wanted to vote for such an override. I would have been insulted, feeling that way too much of the budget was allocated to the public schools as it was. And from the outside, it looked as if things were not being well handled.
If I had children who were in private school, I might not like the idea of having to pay for other children’s education when I was already paying so much for my own.
And if tax increases meant that I or my family could no longer afford to live here, well, that would affect my thinking too.
I would much prefer to be asked to vote for money for our schools for teachers, than a new school building (I think it’s going to be very difficult for the City of Newburyport and the Newburyport School Committee to ask for both.) My own opinion is that what happens inside the schools it is much more important than what the building physically itself is like. That’s just me.
I think it is wise to ask the City Council to make this a ballot question. It is one of those difficult issues that people feel so passionately about on various sides. I think it would be hard to come to a fair consensus on this one unless the people of Newburyport get to vote on it. And my guess is that there are and will be some very heated and passionate discussions both public and private that will and are already happening all over town.
Mary Eaton, Newburyport