This site aims to inform and mobilize Beverly parents to take an active role in all issues related to the funding and operation of the city's schools. It was launched in the spring of 2008, when the city saw its first-ever override attempt fail, followed by the closure of a nearly-new elementary school. Subsequent years have seen further cuts that have led to larger class sizes across the district. While the opening of an impressive new high school and plans to replace the city's aging middle school give us reason to be optimistic, the school community must be ever vigilant in demanding appropriate school funding by city and state governments, and better community communications from the district and School Committee.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Beverly Launches Stand for Children Chapter

Last week, a group of more than 50 parents, elected officials, and concerned citizens gathered to launch Beverly’s new chapter of Stand for Children, the statewide education advocacy group. Meeting at the Beverly Public Library, the attendees heard from a Stand for Children leader from Gloucester, Roger Garberg, who shared Gloucester’s experiences of advocating for public schools, and Chris Gabrieli, chairman of Mass2020, a nonprofit group leading the initiative for expanded learning time. Gabrieli spoke boldly about the need for change in how we view education and how we fund education.

Garberg struck a chord with the parents in the group when he talked about explaining to his 7-year-old daughter where he was going. “Once again I am going to talk with people who are working to make your school and all schools better,” he told her. A simple message that contains important meaning: “Every child in our town and across Massachusetts has the same right to high quality education. This is not a matter of providing school choice for some. This is a matter of providing choice schools for everyone. This right is only assured by active collaborations among neighbors, friends, school committees, city councils, and state legislators.”

“The children of this generation need to be prepared to compete in a global workforce. They need the skills and technology that will enable them to be part of a world that is bigger than the one we knew as students. In 2003/2004, Massachusetts led the nation in cutting state aid to education. Our schools have never recovered. The more adults stand together for children, the more lawmakers will support programs and reforms that give all kids an equal opportunity for education,” said Kris Silverstein, a leader of the Beverly Stand for Children chapter.

“We need to harness the positive and palpable energy around education in Beverly. . . . Having a Stand chapter means that we will be linked into their network with access to information from other communities, calendars with key dates of happenings at the State House, and opportunities to be involved at the most basic level or in a leadership role. We will have a seat at the table with people who want to help shape the direction of education in Massachusetts and beyond,” said Julie DeSilva, another chapter leader.

“We all agree, our kids get one shot at being a first grader, or a third grader, or an eighth grader and we want that year to be all that it should be,” said chapter leader Deb Ploszay. She ended the evening with a quote from President Obama: “Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.”

Stand for Children is a statewide voice for children, with active members in more than 70 communities in Massachusetts. Group members will gather on Tuesday, March 24 for a State House rally. Click here to get involved or to learn more about the rally.

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