Public schools must be fair to everyone
Public schools have many stakeholders — people who care about and are affected by what happens in the schools. Every school committee faces challenges of fairness as it makes policies and allocates resources. As an economist, Tom Grannemann knows that resources are always limited. As a former manager in government, he knows that laws, regulations, and budgets govern what can be done in public programs in practice. But he also knows that values and priorities can shape how well government delivers on it promises.
Here are some of the priorities for fairness that Tom Grannemann will bring to the Haverhill School Committee if elected.
Every student deserves an opportunity to grow and succeed in school and to leave prepared for life and work. For most this means high school graduation, and admission to college or other career training, with the ability to read, write, and think analytically. All need an understanding of themselves and of the world that will enable them to navigate through life’s changes and challenges. This promise is not always met. While we have many excellent teachers and many students who excel, we also have students whose classes are too large; who are not getting the support they need to acquire basic skills; or who are in buildings that have not been adequately maintained.
Haverhill Public Schools should offer programs that will keep kids on track from start to finish. This means ensuring access to full-day kindergarten for all; getting every child to read at grade level by third grade; helping students in all grades progress to proficiency with fundamental math and statistics skills; providing challenging material in middle school; ensuring an effective transition from middle school to high school; and making sure every student has access to preparation for SATs and the college admissions process, if that is their goal.
We must address needs and expand horizons for every student, including those with special needs, those with high aptitude, and the many students in the middle.
To do their jobs well, our teachers require and deserve support. They need time to prepare classes. They need classroom resources, which they should not have to pay for themselves. They need time and guidance for professional development, often in the form of coaching from more experienced and expert colleagues. In addition, they need recognition for the fine work they do — both from school administrators and from the community.
Our teachers and school administrators deserve competitive compensation. Haverhill Public Schools should provide a salary structure for teachers that is competitive with those of surrounding communities, supporting teachers at every level of experience, so that we can attract new teachers, retain the best, and keep them throughout their careers. Regular incremental increases in salary can provide stability in compensation needed to retain the best staff over time.
Schools and families need to work as equal partners to guide each child’s learning process toward school success. Parents need channels for two-way communication with the schools. They want to know their children are getting a quality education in a safe environment. And they need tools to support their children in their education. The School Committee needs to ensure that the district is following policies and practices that effectively engage families. Committee members should be available to hear from parents when joint problem-solving seems to have broken down.
Democracy depends on a well-educated citizenry; our nation’s continued success depends on each generation preparing the next. To understand what is required, today’s taxpayers need only to reflect on what investment was made to give them the many years education they received.
The benefits of public education accrue to all of us. Well-educated citizens will be self-supporting, will produce more goods and services, will contribute more to taxes, and will make better choices in the democratic process. Our public institutions, and in particular our public schools, play a critical role in this process. To do our part to provide for the next generation, we in Haverhill need to support our public schools.
While it is only fair that all should share in the costs, Haverhill taxpayers can quite reasonably expect that:
- Our schools will be run efficiently and not waste resources
- School budgets will be affordable given city resources and state aid
- Schools will be well managed so as to produce good performance results
- The education program will reflect the needs of the community and of the students