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Letters from The Reminder July 4, 2005

Longmeadow is more than schools

A letter to the editor from Lynn Travers in the June 6, 2005 Reminder, a mother of a Longmeadow High School freshman, may very well hold a clue to our recent problems. Because she perceived the rejection of the override of the school budget as "a devastating blow that has hit our school system" she wonders "should we stay in Longmeadow or should we move...when our schools are no longer the reason to move here?"

As so many of her generation feel, Longmeadow is not their "home," but a way station in life where their children will receive a superior education and move on. This has been a recent problem short term education goals, no long term consideration of Longmeadow the living, breathing town of 15,000 diverse citizens. They forget, their children will spend 12 years of their lives in Longmeadow schools, then move on. What about those of us who have lived here many years and consider our schools an important part of our lives but only a part. The recent school problems are the result of inattention by today's parents who now have the responsibility to maintain the high standard they inherited from those of us who built the school system the current generation so admires. We are calling to your attention the many recent fiscal problems that have arisen during the past few years. But don't blame the messenger.

For years we've heard the doomsday prophets pronounce our downfall. Let me just give Ms. Travers some facts her concerned son might not hear at home. High school principal Berte said at the 2005 graduation "The standards of excellence at Longmeadow High School makes its graduates the envy of any school system." He noted Longmeadow High was ranked by Newsweek in the top three percent of high schools in the entire country. The Boston Globe has ranked Longmeadow High School 19th in the state and the entire school system 15th. This puts us in the same category as the wealthy Boston suburbs. The School Committee has been telling the citizens we need higher pay because we pay less than most surrounding towns. We not only lose quality teachers, but we can't attract new hires. An article in the June 5 Sunday Republican states "Longmeadow is one of the top-paying districts in Hampden County." We recently received 16 unsolicited applications from Springfield teachers. The School Committee should stop scaring the public and quit worrying children like Ms. Travers' son. they should stop distorting the facts.

Remember, we've heard "the sky is falling" for much of the past decade or more from the School Committee. Hopefully our almost totally new School Committee and School Superintendent will remember Longmeadow is much more than just schools.

Sam Altman


Undisciplined barbarians?

I sat amongst some undisciplined barbarians Tuesday evening, at what was supposed to be a informational 'heads up' on a more fair and efficient trash disposal system. It was chaos! Had my old German cousins seen it, flashbacks might have been of the N.S.D.A.P. preparing for Kristallnacht. Never, in seven decades have I been surrounded by similar wildlife. Their sole delight was to hurl aspersions at their own elected and others up front. It certainly took much more than this bunch to elect them.

Their misguided shouts for "democracy" were interrupted when one demanded all pledge allegiance to (Take Note!) a "Republic." It seemed this sign of unity against current government was a Nazi type Sieg Heil intimidation. Nowhere in the recital was the word "Democracy." 'Course not! Ben Franklin is quoted: 'It's a Republic if you can keep it.' So those today, whose every other word is that 'D...' are most disingenuous to say the least.

Almost all governments on the planet are "Republics" as opposed to the virtually impossible D... and there is a profound difference in definition. The elected in a Republic have a very long leash to freely act on their own as their conscience, belief, etc. leads them to do what is right and proper. There is a generous amount of corruption in all governments always was always will be. When you pledge to any form, it's for better or for worse. Good reason why I don't.

Your elected have given due diligence to this "disposal" contract. They've read the handwriting on the wall left by recent ballot results. Hopefully, we are around the corner on carte blanche and the masses subsidizing the few 'we want what we want when we want it' so prevalent in today's culture. Higher government is getting more 'conservative' in the $ area. I'm with your elected 100% on this one.

Anyone believe many of those pledgers owe sincere apology to the recipients of their outrageous attack? I do!

Paul Cooke

East Longmeadow

Concerning the School Committee meeting

Dear School Committee and Dr. AndersEn:

This letter is being written to you concerning the school committee meeting held on June 27, 2005.

First and foremost, I would like to express my disappointment and displeasure of this school committee for allowing special interest groups to dominate and manipulate the total school committee meeting. This behavior has now set the stage for every special interest group to "control and hold hostage" the visitor's portion of a school committee meeting, to whine to the point that the school committee relents and acquiesces.

This present committee apparently is no different than its predecessors ... the squeaky wheel gets the grease. And in this case the "grease" is money ... the money to fund the proverbial "pet" ... money, by the way, that the school committee doesn't have. One would certainly have hoped that the school committee would have taken the advice of the "Cabinet" (the principals) of our schools in prioritizing the cuts. It was the Cabinet after all who recommended that cut again, as in past years, the special interest (music) group's wishes have prevailed. The impression of "same old / same old" is pervasive ... just like the impression that they will find the money!

I noticed that certain school committee members excused themselves from voting (abstained) concerning High School sports fees. Why then didn't those school committee members who have children soon to be entering the 4th or 5th grade abstain from voting concerning music? Their voting could certainly be construed as problematic at best; invalid at worst. After all, to "fund that program" or "not fund the program" has a direct financial impact on those voting, i.e. whether or not you have to pay a fee or enlist your child in private lessons. Were those who voted "yes" aware that they should have abstained; or, were they just voting for their own self-serving interests?

At a recent Open Meeting Seminar that the Board of Ethics for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts participated in at the Longmeadow Community Center, it was stated that "appearances" were very, very important. From the size of the crowd and the tenor of the "pro music" audience, they were, no doubt, previously and privately informed that their group would be allowed to speak to that issue at the June 27th meeting and that there would an extended visitor comment period.

The School Committee's policy of allowing multitudes of participants to speak passionately for a certain cause or certain issue will now be the standard operating procedure for all future school committee meetings. What is good for one group is certainly good for another! To allow one group and not another is discriminatory!

Everyone has their own "pet" projects and interests. I, for one, have always been against the policy of School Choice; the policy of allowing teachers who live out of district to have their children attend Longmeadow Public Schools tuition free; the policy of having Metco students attend Longmeadow Public Schools, the policy of having the "lowest" MIAA allowable academic standards for student athletes name a few. These are "hot" topics not only to me but to many, many others.

We, as concerned parents of students in the Longmeadow Public School system, request and expect the same courtesy and privilege that you have afforded others. No less would be considered totally inflammatory, biased, and discriminatory on the part of the school committee.

Diane B. Nadeau