, Newburyport, MA

November 15, 2012

Kids, kids, nothing but the kids

Newburyport Daily News

---- — To the editor:

In the past in these columns, I have emphasized the importance of the youth of America in the future growth and development of our city locally and our country as a nation globally. Several months ago, the citizens of our community strongly affirmed their support of such an attitude with the passage of several local ballot initiatives for much-needed school building projects.

Several months hence, however, the efforts of our trusted citizens in support of our great schools are confronted with reports of key administrators’ departures and comments in the press suggesting our great school system is in turmoil and may not appear as we had perceived before the election confirming our support. This has forced many of our citizens to wonder why and to question their support of our schools.

The drama and the theatrics of individuals and their personal agendas have been portrayed in the press and in public over and over again with numerous failings cited.

As one known by many to be actively engaged in our local schools, let me redirect our attention and all of our efforts to those very kids whom we have supported with the passage of the ballot initiatives on new school constructions. This is not about the superintendent; it’s not about the assistant superintendents; it’s not about the principals or the assistant principals; it’s not about the SPED director and it’s not about the mayor or School Committee members. It remains about the kids and nothing but the kids.

However, it appears that such melodramas, while a clear distraction to our school mission, have provided the stimulus for more concerns about, discussions of and involvement with these issues within our school district by larger numbers from various parts of our community. There have been more editorial comments publicly and privately, greater School Committee engagement and more deliberate community participation at School Committee meetings.

To this end, perhaps, this distraction will redirect and guide the efforts of all our citizens. Let’s stop the bantering in the press; let’s stop the distractions to our school’s mission and let’s move forward with the guidance of our greater community.

Let me invite you all to School Committee meetings, painful as they may be, to dialogue during public conversation starting at 6:30 p.m. before each meeting; let me invite you to speak out during public comment to redirect our elected officials in the direction our vote on the ballot initiatives guides us to schools that can acclaim progress from great to greater. “The way to get started is to stop talking and start doing” (Walt Disney).

This is not about you; it’s not about me; it’s not about them. It’s about the kids, not your kids or my kids. It’s about our kids and nothing but the kids.

So, let’s stop the suspense and the drama now. And let’s get started — see you at the next Newburyport School Committee meeting on Monday, 6:30 p.m., at the high school — Room 118. For a copy of the agenda, go to minutes2.html. Feel free to reach me at or 978-502-2591.

Dr. Ralph Orlando