Calls on mayor to address `the real issues' in Warwick
Open letter to Mayor Avedisian:
I have been quietly watching the changes in our community and schools for the past 10 years, and find I cannot keep silent anymore. My agenda is simple; I don’t have one. My silence however, I fear, is condoning things that are taking place that are just wrong. They do not represent our city!
You are fully aware of the events taking place with our Warwick Public Schools Administration, Superintendent, and School Committee. I know this because I have seen your interviews in the news as recently as today. However, I have never seen you at a single meeting of the School Committee or Warwick Community Outreach Educational Committee this academic year.
My feeling on this topic, and maybe that of others as well, is that you have a responsibility to promote a more accurate dialogue. One between parents, community members, the school committee, administration, and the superintendent. You go on television and say everything is all well and good. Maybe from a policy or financial stand point it is. So in that aspect it is all well in good in your eyes. You are not, however, paying attention to the greater community dissatisfaction! You have a responsibility when you are taking hold of the press to inform people who are not involved about the real issues in their community!
If you are not telling people how will they know there is a problem? How will they vote?
People watch their local news and take their mayor’s word for everything. That yes, “the buildings are old and these problems are inherited.” Claiming that, financially, “all that can be done is being done.” Publicly stating this is the best School Committee and Superintendent you have ever worked with.
Because they don’t have kids in the system, what they care about is how their money is being used. They hear you say everything is okay and money is being spent appropriately. Then you further endorse the way the School Committee is voting. They think, “fine no problem” or “What’s the problem?”
If you are a parent however, who is in the system and really going through it with all of these changes, the dialogue is quite different. Yes, they are spending the money and it’s great if your child is in the AP or honors program. If you have a child in general education, however, classes are over filled, under resourced, and have too many students in need of special academic attention for one teacher to handle alone. It was also recently reveled that those in charge of our schools and our children’s safety were well aware of the dysfunctional fire alarm systems, and had no plans for immediate action to bring them back to the state mandated fire codes.
There are all these other issues you are not addressing in interviews, or with community members like myself, that the superintendent and school committee are repeatedly creating:
Voting private votes, the number of closed session meetings that keep people out, changing dates last minute to the effect that less parents and community participants can attend meetings or be aware of when they’re taking place, willingly not acknowledging families in crisis being forced out of their districts and having to move, kids becoming ill from poor environment conditions, turmoil in special education, public comment at committee meetings being moved to end of the meetings so community members can not raise questions before voting, and even threatening to take public comment away all together.
Why aren’t the people who are not directly involved hearing about this? Why don’t your news reports keep saying, “Well I saw that protest a while back, what does that have to do with
all this?” They just said it was unhappy students for special education. Why aren’t you asking, “Does the problem really go beyond this?” Our City Council sure is! It is your JOB to be
putting that information out there, and aiding in the betterment of your community!
If you really do not have a stake in this School Committee, administration or superintendent, only have a dialogue with them, and cannot control them, it should not matter to you if their choices reflect poorly on them and demand greater interventions. There are things within our City Charter that allow you more authority than you are exercising! The overall lack of attention given to this issue leads me to wonder what else might be uncovered if it is further investigated.
So I wanted to talk with you Mr. Avedisian to clarify all this. I called to make an appointment and I was rerouted to your press secretary Courtney who wanted to have this discussion in place of you, it seemed, based on the questions and comments she was making. I simply stated “I called to speak with my Mayor about this.” I was told someone from your office would be in touch with me as she abruptly disconnected, curiously enough never stopping to take my phone number, e-mail, or address as a means to get back to me as promised. Despite the high likelihood that there is caller ID, I was transferred to her by a main operator. It has since been five days and still no contact has been made. I am writing this letter in an effort to get some answers and perhaps start a real dialogue about what is happening in our community.