Who Will Look Out for Our Children?

Posted on August 31, 2011


I couldn’t say no when asked to moderate the upcoming ELCA Forum for School Committee Candidates on Wednesday, September 14, at the Congregation Ahabat Sholom, 151 Ocean Street in Lynn, 7:00 p.m.

Association President Mary Trahan says,”Citizen involvement in this election for School Committee members is crucial for the development of the city because having performing schools is the key for keeping students in school, attracting new middle-income families to Lynn, and having new businesses locate here.”

The ECLA invited the following candidates for the school committee forum: incumbents Patricia Capano, Maria Carassco, Donna Coppolla, John Ford, Jr., Rick Starbard, and Vincent Spirito; challengers Dolores DiFillipo and Charlie Gallo.

The school system is a hot topic in this city of over 80,000 people. Parents like Stanley Wotring, who writes the Lynn School Watch, demand more accountability and transparency in what they view as a corrupt and unfair system. At least two Facebook groups are devoted to strong critiques of the underperforming schools and the administration that oversees them. Downtown Lynn has invited all candidates to respond to several questions. A recent WBUR story outlines the huge challenge that the Lynn Public School System faces in educating the children of a growing refugee population.

What do we do? Leave these new arrivals to fend for themselves? Where does the money come from to improve the schools and allow them to handle the increasing burden? What creative solutions will the candidates have to address these problems and can they cooperate with each other, the mayor, the teacher’s union and the superintendent in find solutions?

Nothing less than our future as a community is at stake. This is an important election.

The event is open to everyone and there is no charge. Voters who want to submit questions for the debate should email east.lynn.assn@comcast.net or call 781-364-9060. Questions will be pre-selected from submissions, kept confidential until presented by the moderator, and will remain anonymous. Questions must be addressed to all candidates to be considered.

Anyone eligible to vote but who is not yet registered can do so at this meeting. Although the deadline for voter registration is August 31st to vote in the September 20th primary election, the registration deadline is Wednesday, October 12th, for the general election on November 8th.

The mission of ELCA is to promote pride and ownership in the Lynn community through beautification, education, recreation, and neighborly relationships.

In 2009, when the East Lynn Community Association organized the first at-large Councillor debate in 10 years, Council President Tim Phelan expressed the need for more such events in the future. (Disclosure: as a former ELCA board member, I helped organize this forum) During the evening dubbed “Vision for a Revitalized Lynn,” each candidate offered his or her plan for a safer, healthier, more vital community. Shortly thereafter, the ELCA held a mayoral debate, and this year, their second at-large Councillor debate. I have had the honor of moderating each one.

Eugene Schneeberg, Council President Tim Phelan, Councillors Paul Crowley, Judy Flanagan Kennedy and Dan Cahill at the first debate.