GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

Letters/My View

November 1, 2013

Letter: School needs demand committee changes

To the editor:

The upcoming city elections give this community a golden opportunity to take stock of the state of our public school system.

The Gloucester Public Schools, ranked 241 out of 325 in the state of Massachusetts (bottom 25 percent), are failing our children. It’s no wonder that 265 children have choiced out for this academic year.

The children and teachers in Gloucester are as capable as in any community. The failure to improve is simply a failure of leadership, and unfortunately, the leader of the GPS, Dr. Safier, constantly misrepresents facts to this community.

When my daughter, Amanda Kesterson, advocated for placing an armed resource officer in our city schools, Dr. Safier wrote two “My View” columns in the Times explaining why that measure was not necessary and assuring the public that our schools were safe. We later discovered, through School Committee member Roger Garberg’s letter to the editor of April 5, 2013, that Dr. Safier, at the time that he made these claims, was working to put an officer at the high school. Despite the fact that he apparently agreed with Amanda that there was a need for this type of security, he told the city of Gloucester the opposite.

When my daughter, Lisa Fornero, expressed concern that the GPS were in violation of the minimum standards for instructional time, Dr. Safier again wrote a “My View” column explaining why we were in compliance, with one hour and 12 minutes to spare.

He failed to mention in his piece that he did call the Department of Education to look into the instructional time in Gloucester because Lisa’s calculations did appear valid to him, nor did he admit that he fudged his calculations by only factoring in 11 half days when his school calendar has 13 for the 2013-2014 school year.

We need school committee members who will challenge the superintendent’s representations, question him on behalf of parents, and recognize that they are the elected body to oversee every aspect of the schools, including the administrators.

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