Forty Beverly citizens concerned about education met at the Beverly Public Library on September 15, 2009, from 7 to 8:30 pm. The topic was “Building a Statewide Voice for Children.” The Beverly chapter of Stand for Children, formed in March with 45 members to date, hosted this event to strengthen Beverly’s voice for education reform in the coming year. Our goals are to influence education issues and acquire more funding for Massachusetts school systems through programs such as “Race to the Top,” which makes grant money available to qualifying states.
Featured speaker Shari Cornett, the director of youth workforce initiatives for the North Shore Workforce Investment Board (WIB), gave a presentation on the linkage between education and job opportunities on the North Shore. Cornett emphasized the importance of businesses partnering with school systems and how rewarding those partnerships are to both the businesses and students.
Cornett offered sobering news about the disconnect between the skills and educational paths our students take and the vacant jobs in Massachusetts. With only 21% of Massachusetts college students choosing majors in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics), schools are not graduating candidates to fill the computer, architecture, engineering, science, and community and health care jobs that are persistently vacant in Massachusetts. Since these fields also offer the most job growth and security they are vital to a strong local economy. What’s the bottom line for education? “We need to increase graduation rates in the STEM areas,” Cornett said.
Jayne Swart, a leader from Stand for Children’s North Reading chapter, spoke about her experience with Stand and the value it has brought to her community. She spoke of the strong membership in North Reading and issued a challenge to Beverly to beat their numbers.
Other speakers included Beverly chapter team leaders Kris Silverstein, Jim Povey, Julie DeSilva, Andi Freedman, and Deb Ploszay, who shared their personal stories and experiences with Stand and encouraged the audience members to join Stand in order to stay current on education issues in our state. “The threat of cutting teachers, rising class sizes, increasing fees, and cutting vital programs is always looming! The thing is these are issues that everyone is facing, cities like Worcester, Lowell, Gloucester, and North Reading. They share our problems but like us, through Stand, they are making a difference. We know that better schools will not happen on their own and we can’t wait for someone else. It’s up to us!” said Ploszay.
Guests included State Representative Mary Grant; Beverly Mayor Bill Scanlon; city councilors Pat Grimes, Wes Slate, and Kevin Hobin; school committee members Annemarie Cesa, Karen Fogarty, and Jim Latter; at-large councilor candidates Michael Cahill and Elliott Margolis; Ward 4 school committee candidate Gail Burke, and School Superintendent Dr. Jim Hayes.
Stand for Children seeks to make children and their needs a higher political priority by building effective local and statewide networks of grassroots advocates capable of convincing elected officials to invest in our children through programs and policies that focus on no more lost ground, efficiencies and cost-savings, long-term funding, and innovation and investment to help all children succeed.
Stand for Children members in Beverly are committed to improving education. To join or learn more information go to www.stand.org/ma or contact organizer Ellie Beck at firstname.lastname@example.org or or local communications manager Jim Povey at email@example.com