A Few Notes on Education Including the High School History

Lowell High School has an interesting and erroneous history.  It was not formed in 1831 and it did not locate itself first on Middlesex Street.  Take out the School Committee Minutes from 1834 to 1838.  It is available in the Memorial Library Research Room.  It is my opinion, bound by fact, that the High School did not exist until 1834.   That is when the State Department of Education recognized it.  The school would come to be known as being something special.  Of the first eleven graduates, one would be a special surgeon, there would be one Governor of Massachusetts in it, and one Governor of New Hampshire.

There was a three year high school educational program in 1834 that might help to explain the mistaken date of inception as 1831.  In 1834 there was a graduation.  Where those students, which included Benjamin Butler, came from is a mystery.  It does help to explain the 1831 date though.  There was a three year program that existed and that Butler and his 10 fellow students might have been following.  However, the State Certficate for the high school did not exist until 1834.

At the time, a high school education  was “frosting on the cake.”  A college education was very attractive, but not really  heard of at the time.  Even lawyers, like Abraham Lincoln, were not required to go to college.  Lincoln had no degree.  Neither did many other lawyers.  They studied as apprentices to or under other lawyers.  It might be said that we have come a long way.

The high school would become a major educational magnet in certain circles.  It was noted by the Board that Lowell had seventeen schools requiring twenty-eight instructors.  In comparison Charlestown  had 9,400 inhabitants, whereas Lowell had 14,000 inhabitants.  Charlestown had 1,581 students to Lowell’s 2,300 students.

Lowell petitioned in early 1834 with the state to certify that their new high school would be located in the Concert Hall on Merrimack Street.  Massive work was done to the Concert Hall at the incredible price of ninety-five dollars, to make it a high school.  At one point, the School Committee was forced to admit that the “High School has been has been closed since January last for lack of funds.”  It was their goal “…to open the High School as soon as they should be able to save money enough to carry it through the year.”  The High School was closed intermittently during bad weather.  Often the closings were for a year or  so.  (John W. Graves – Secretary of the Lowell School Committee, July 23, 1834).

At the time, all you needed to become a teacher was a seventh grade education.  High school teachers had tougher requirements, but could become teachers with a less than stellar education.   They were not to require a college education.

A long, long time ago, as Don McClean says in his iconic “American Pie,” I was born to a teacher who made sure that his family was adhered to education.  My father, at the time,  was getting himself in educational trouble for writing against Joseph McCarthy’s views on Commies in the government.  It did not endear my father to his professors.  This was at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa.  It was a very brave stand to take at the time.

After obtaining his Master’s Degree in Administrative Education, he became the youngest Superintendent in Iowa.  He was twenty-six years of age.  He took over the rural school in Cosgrove, Iowa.   Cosgrove was mostly a town which catered to the surrounding farms.  There were twenty-six people populating the town.  Television was a brand new invention so it did not cover a small Iowan school district.  We had a television which was basically useless, and because we were so far away from the station, I grew up without television.  It has never been my favorite thing to watch.

I learned a lot from my father.  He made special wooden toys for us, and we greatly admired him.  He even taught me how to properly clap my hands to make the loudest  noise.  He used to cup his hands to make a louder clap.  His was louder than the other men’s claps in Cosgrove.  I was a young boy there in Cosgrove, and enjoyed the idea that among the population were eight nuns and one priest.  They were part of the twenty-eight.  I was very proud of my father when he brought home a rowboat that he had built himself.  I thought it was beautiful, and it was.

Growing up was kind of difficult with the Superintendent of Schools as my father.  Every new idea that he learned at the University of Iowa doctoral program was practiced on me.  When he got his Ph.D. we had the best party I have ever been to; it was monumental.  During the party one of my friends stole a cigarette from his father.  I learned how not to smoke that  night.  One neighbor, a psychiatrist, burst into laughter as we burned ourselves trying to light up.  Fortunately I never did learn how to inhale, or smoke cigarettes.  It was one of the lessons of my young life.   It happened on the day my father became Dr. Wayne R. Peters.  It was quite an accomplishment for a man whose father had always been a blacksmith.  And, one of his sons wrote, “a damned fine one.”

I was very proud of my father.  He was neat.  He gained a reputation as a reformer.   He instituted many changes in his school district(s).  They were exciting.  Years after Cosgrove, he made a big difference near Chicago, in Harvey, Illinois.  That was a diverse community and I learned there that there were people I had nothing in common with but I had to adapt.  I still do adapt.  When Lowell got its Cambodian influx, a local hardware owner posted in his door “No Cambodians here.”  I was excited to see the Cambodians and even today they are many of my best friends.

The high school became a major winner of the downtown area.  It carried heavily in the vote on its location.  The fact is, that Lowell High School will always be at the core of education in the city.  And, its location is at the core.  That should come as no surprise to anyone.  It is the same mindset that first located the high school on Merrimack Street in the downtown.

This is an invigorating school and it will always direct the city.  It is possible for a pre-K student to start school and go on to his or her doctorate while just being in Lowell for life.  There are, of course, other reasons for living your life in Lowell.  Some people do it.  Some of us will always be blow-ins.

Lowell’s population is always fluid.  We are basically conservative, but Democratic.  There are some Republicans, but we try not to let them bother us too much.  Our major political fights are for  City Council or the School Committee.  Both are difficult to ascend to.  State Representative, State Senate, and Congressional seats are won by those who Paul Tsongas categorized as “the luckiest.”  I used to ask him how he did so well and his response was always, “I was lucky.”  That assessment is what I take from Lowell.  I will be buried here.

Update on the Magna Carta

I am a student of history, and I love English history.  I recently spent time reading about Thomas a Beckett and Henry II.  It was fascinating and possibly a new blog at some point.  But today’s blog is about the Magna Carta (Latin for Magnificient Charter).  It was called that because it  was such a long document.   What you may not know is that there existed major parts of the document which we will discuss as four parts.  Historians broke it down into the four sections.  I am going to list those four sections here.  They were very succinct.

As some of you may remember from your History books, the meeting at Runnymede Field was not just attended by the nobles, but also by the wealthy merchants who were paying for King John’s incompetence through high taxes.   They were as taxed as the nobles.  Runnymede was fifteen miles from the main castle of the King.  Just as a way of showing how incompetent he was, I have to mention that he was running from his brother, and he took the original Crown Jewels. This included the crown itself, which had been in the family since William the Conquerer, and the jewels fell  into the Thames River at its deepest part.  They were never recovered and have been covered by silt for centuries.  The current crown of Queen Elizabeth is not the original.

Runnymede is preserved as it was at the time, to allow the field to be as it is currently and show how desperate the King had become.  It is important to history and to the average person for four major reasons.

  1.     The way in which the document was gathered and signed was significant.  The major points were not given willingly or freely.  They were coerced from the incompetent king, King John.  He was probably the least effective king in English history.  King Richard the Third was, albeit not for Shakespeare,  incredibly good comparitively.   These proposals were forced by the most active people, acting in a united fashion.  They were not going to dismiss their weighted concerns.  The document was signed and it showed, incredibly, that if the King did not rule as the people wished, he could be made to do so.  That term in the contract made John decide to ignore this part of the Magna Carta  in the future.   He was not allowed to ignore it by the people who forced him to accept the giveaway.
  2.      It kept feudal “principles of government” from being superseded by the principles of an absolute monarch.  John had been an absolute monarch in his early reign.  He could give them good government if he in turn gave them good service.  It was believed, rightly, that the King had no right to break this contract.  It showed that the tenants had the right and power to limit the King and his account.
  3. The Magna Carta was bound to be a disappointment.  It did not form a new government, but, instead, was nothing as much as it was a return to old customs.  Many of the provisions were insignificant and temporary.  It protected the right of the prisoner, in much the same way as the least important of us are now protected from tyranny.  It literally said, “To no one will we sell, and to no one will we deny or delay right of justice.” (Magna Carta)  In the future, in our time, these obstructions would form the rights in our own Constitution.  Prisoners of the time, and currently, are still protected by the law.
  4. It was a definitive statement of the “rights to refer.”  (Edward Cheyney; the History of England).  King John scoffed at the rules and declared that he did not intend to keep these rights.  However, the people and the Pope convinced him that the days of Henry I, II, and  King Richard had passed.  It sufficed as a clear promise of good government.  King John would have to live with it, as would each successive monarch, including those sitting on the throne of Britain today.  Students of English history, and those of us who are relatively uneducated  in the ways of the Magna Carta live with it tenets everyday.  Pope Innocent III had excommunicated the King and left England outside of the protections of the Catholic Church.  That was a major reason why the King had burned through his power.  An interesting and logical surmise.  And it is today’s blog.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Beauty of Human Effort

I am a student of history.  In order to tell the stories that result in the telling of this history, sometimes I have to tell you something that is historically accurate but not always well-known.  This story is about someone (me) who saw history being made by some of the most unhistorical men or women in our lives.  This story is true.  I have pictures of the original moment in history and the use of the heavy-duty crane.

This is the story.  In the 1980’s or so, the City Fathers, of which my father was one, planted the coal train that is across from the diner near the Old Worthen.  Now we have plenty of information on the Old Worthen.  It was a favorite stop for the famous Edgar Allen Poe of Baltimore.  What you may not know is that the coal train was given to us by a quarry in Westford.  Lowell was glad to get it.  It did not fit, but it was appreciated.

What do  I mean by “it did not fit?” Well, the wheels could not be lowered onto the railroad track that the coal train was supposed to rest on, accurately, according to the historians in the crowd.  The wheels were approximately one quarter of an inch to wide for the track.  The track had not been accurately measured.  For the entire morning, afternoon, and evening, the engine was lifted, relifted, and refit onto the recalcitrant track.   The track could not be moved.  The engine simply had to fit.  It didn’t.

The college-trained engineers could not make that locomotive fit onto that track.  It was the summer, so it was getting dark later, and the group next to the train under the canopy tried every angle they could think of and some solutions that they probably had never thought of before.  I watched with great interest, stopped for supper, and returned to my spot near the locomotive.   Almost everyone except the workers had left.  The few workers left continued everything and anything that might work.  I had, and have, to give them credit.  They did not seem to miss a trick.  The crane had even gone home.  I have a picture of the crane and it was a tough little tool.

I was about to leave myself, but I went to the men under the canopy.  Curses, mostly, sounded in the dark night.  Finally, an old man went up to the men and said he could get that locomotive into its bed.  They all laughed at him.  They asked him how he woud do it.  “Get me some wood,” he said.  “Small pieces, rectangular or square.”  Some disbelievers did exactly as he said.  They brought over some rectangular pieces of 2 by 4’s and 4 by 8’s.  At his own speed, he gently put each new board leaning against the locomotive.  Slowly, the pile of wood reached up onto the space between the track and the culp.  Culpability was the question.   The old man continued in his task, there was no culpability.  He continued in his effort and built a sandbox tower, the type of thing you might see in the making of a child’s toy.  It was almost up to the rim of the locomotive wheel.

No one was really paying attention to him, I noticed.  He asked for a final board, and placed it at an angle under the rim.  Then he asked for  a sledge hammer.   He used the sledgehammer to pound the last piece of wood under the wheel rim.  I was the last person on his side of the locomotive.  With a jolt I heard the locomotive settle onto the track.  He had completed successfully placing the train on the track.  He had done it with the simplest of tools, a hammer and a wedge.  Under pressure,  the wood pile fell onto itself.  He had won.  Age had defied his intelligence.  The men left in the canopy came over to look at the wheel.  It had moved fractions of an inch onto the track and he had done it.  I left there thinking that I would never question an old man’s intelligence.  My grandfather had been a blacksmith and lifted heavy horse feet up to put horseshoes on horses.  I looked up and said to the dark, “Nice work, Grandpa.”  I think he heard me.

That is my true history story for today.  And it happened in Lowell, and it is true.

Markey and Kennedy – Different Approaches

I heard this as a rumor.  From individual people, but, the intent is obvious.  The intent seems to be to force the election before the caucuses.  Whether or not it will happen is up in the air.  Both candidates have to get fifteen percent of the caucus results.  It just appears to me that the fifteen percent rule dates back to another time and is not necessary in the Democratic Party.

When my brother-in-law, Senator Paul Tsongas, was wrestling with his campaigns, there was no fifteen percent law, and he was known to say that, if there had been, he would never have been a United States  Senator.  The fifteen percent include the people who take the time to attend the caucus.  Paul observed that he could never have gotten fifteen percent.   He meant it.  Fifteen percent is a great many votes by the citizenry.  It is  a law that is overdue to be dismissed.  It helps the incumbents, not the challengers.   Challenge is the purpose of politics.  It is up to the people to decide, not the few incumbents who can control, through their masses of supporters who voted for the person who got them their job, the fifteen percent.  I am saying that there is potentially a pattern there.

The rumor, and it is not supported by a large group of people, is that Senator Markey’s strategy  is to commandeer the fifteen percent needed by Congressman Kennedy,   by loading the caucuses with his supporters and denying the Kennedy people the fifteen percent that they need.   I hope that there is no truth to the rumor.  This should be a straight two man Democratic race.   That is what the people want and that is what the people deserve.

Fifteen percent has nothing to do with reality.  It is an arbitrary figure.  It could be twenty-five percent, it could be twenty-three percent.  It is not based on law, it is “discretionary,  capricious, (even) despotic,” according to Webster’s “Oxford Dictionary.”    My contention is that it is based on fictitious rules.

The fifteen percent rule is based on fictitious rules that make it impossible for a person as relevant as Paul Tsongas to successfully run for the Senate.  It just keeps the incumbent in incumbency.  A friend of mine once told me that there were two parties, not Demcratic and Republican, but Incumbent and Non-Incumbent.  With this approach, I have to  wonder whether or not he was right.

If you have an interest in democracy, get to the caucus at 1PM on Saturday and vote for your candidate.  In Lowell, it is happening at 1PM but no later than 1:45PM.   That’s another rule that  makes it more difficult to vote, but we will handle that one later.

I hope to see you at the caucuses.

 

 

 

 

Your Ultimate Vacation Destination

I have to admit that I am hooked on the film, “Field of Dreams” with Kevin Costner.  The first time I watched it, it just haunted me.  It was about my birth state of Iowa, and it showed Iowa in a very good light.  Towards the end of the movie, one long-deceased person looks at Kevin Costner and asks, “Is this heaven?”

“No,” Coster replies, “it’s Iowa.”  For those of us who were  born there, there is an understanding of what that means.  You can visit Iowa, play John Denver’s song, “Thank God, I’m a Country Boy,”  and lose  yourself to a state that, every four years takes precedence in the effort to elect a President.   My cousins still live there and they know everyone running  by the time the caucuses happen.   And good things happen to Iowa.  It is a wonderful state to live in.

Massachusetts is just as good.  With its views of heaven at the beaches, and its attempt to maintain its small-state philosophy, it is a good alternate to Iowa.  But, in my opinion, heaven is Iowa.  Except in one specific location.  And that involves baseball, Lowell’s answer to the character’s question in the first paragraph.  When I want to go on vacation, I go to somewhere unique to Massachusetts.  I have told many friends, that I am the person who looks and asks David Heller, the owner of the Spinners franchise, if the area a few feet from the mighty Merrimack River is heaven.  In my imaginings, Dave says, in response to the baseball question of the day, “Is this heaven?”

“No,” Dave says, “it’s LeLacheur Park.”  LeLacheur Park certainly looks like heaven, especially when the sun is painting the green darker colors.  It is beautiful to be there, and the patrons, the fans, are great.  I heartily recommend the season ticket so you can enjoy the view and absorb the excitement.  Half of the pull of the park is in the stands and bleachers.   A full-season box office seat is just over three hundred dollars.  For unlimited baseball, it does not get better than that.  That is one day at Fenway Park and the game of baseball played in Lowell,  is often better.  I witnessed more homeruns last year, and they came within one game of winning the prize.  This year, they will do better.

I have a close affiliation with the Spinners.  My brother-in-law, by wife’s brother, set them up to play in Lowell.  His name was Paul Tsongas.  That Paul Tsongas.  He built LeLacheur Park.  He is not the spirit of LeLacheur Park, that is Eddie LeLacheur, but he had something to do with it.  Just  ask David Heller if you can  corner him.  He will tell you how integral Paul was to the park.  It would not exist without him.  Or without Eddie LeLacheur.  They  both played an integral part in the game.

Drew Webber, the former owner of the park, championed the unknown Spinners into a force to be reckoned with.  He got the equipment, he took  care of the park, and in a moment of personal pride for me, he asked Paul’s namesake, Rory Paul Peters, who is also Paul’s nephew, to pitch the first pitch to the catcher, ever.  Rory was, I believe, eight years old, and he, according to the SUN, pitched the first pitch as a strike.  It was a strike, I watched it.  The catcher did not have to move to  pick up the pitch.  It was a perfect lopping pitch, straight to the catcher’s mitt.  I could not argue with that appraisal.  It looked perfect to me and it was the first pitch ever in the history of the Spinners.

A DAY WITH THE SPINNERS

If you were lucky and had season tickets two years ago, you could see Mooky Betts, and other World Series players, playing baseball for the Lowell Spinners.  Actually, we should put that in quotes.  It is the “Lowell Spinners.”  For the sake of brevity, I will continue to just use the name.  But it is worthy of good punctuation.

This year’s coaching staff is the same as last year’s.  Last year they almost took the title.  This year they are going to take it.  Don’t forget to buy your season’s ticket.  It is a cheap guaranteed fun experience  that appeals to the entire family.  There is the Canaligator, a rumpily figure that looks something like an alligator.  He has a wife.  In the twenty-five seasons that the “Proud Affiliate of the Boston Red Sox” played thusfar, the Canaligator provided a lot of the entertainment.  They even have a toothbrushing dentist.  Key Promotions include the “All You Can Eat Mini-Plan,” Bobbleheads, a Patriots player appearance, as well as a Bruins player appearance,  a Revolution player appearance, and, again, many Bobbleheads.

For those of us with cancer, which includes myself, there is a May Cancer Walk.  July 4th. sees Lowell City Fireworks.  There is a baseball clinic on July 16th. my brother Tom’s birthday, and Spinners Baseball camps in July and August.  There will be many amateur baseball competitions and the chance to see your child play baseball in a professional park maintained by the Spinners and the University of Massachusetts at Lowell.

Opening Day is June 18th.  All Star Events happen on August 17th. and 18th.   Information can be reached by calling 978-459-1702.  Call for ticket information.  Ask for Riley Robar.  He is very helpful as are all of the members of the staff.

So what do you want to do this summer.  You want to watch a very good team play very good teams.  You want the leisurely game of baseball.  You want to see heaven.  It’s at Lelacheur Park.  Have a great time, and if you see me give me a big “Hello.”

Mental Health and Guns

The Texas Solution

Recently, a man who was intent on killing in a church was shot and killed by armed men in the congregation.  It was treated as a relief from the incredible slaughter we have witnessed in the schools, churches, and synagogues throughout the country.  I hail the men who sacrificed their safety to bring the shooter down.  They are heroes.  But the more prescient question is why were any guns in a House of God?  The man who did it died, and he deserved to die.   But the question remains.

Mental Health

I have been scared of mental health issues for virtually my entire life.  The story above is told with the caveat that people who are mentally ill are obtaining guns and using them on the public.  That has to stop.   A person who is mentally ill is not in control of his faculties.  I have a history of mental illness in my abbreviated family.  My family, not all but a couple of us, should not be allowed guns.  I live in  Massachusetts which maintains a strong gun law and it is difficult to obtain a gun in that state.  It should be as difficult for any mentally impaired person to obtain guns.  They should have the same registration information as cars do.  That is just my opinion.  The men who took the man down were heroes.  That is a fact.

My Grandmother

My fear of mental health issues emanates from my grandmother, who lived with a horrible husband for years and suffered what was probably PTSD.  She was normal for most of her young life, but became a victim to a bully and could not escape.  It was not pretty.  My grandfather gave the county hospital in their state, permission to give her a procedure, which was so heinous that it is not done anymore.  It altered her life significantly and in a very bad way.  As a result of the operation, which was quite common at the time, she was never the same.

I have letters from her that were written when I was a baby, before the operation, and she was the same as anyone else.  Later, after the operation, it was clear that she was not mentally able to live a full life.  We could not reason with her, and we became concerned.  I should say that her children became concerned.  As it was, our life with her was never the same.

Eventually, she died of Alheimer’s Disease.  She was in her early seventies.  I remember how hard she struggled with her mental health problems.  She was incredible.  Her struggle was not pretty.  Like many, I have sensed her presence on the other side,  since her death, and I believe in that type of thing, and she was a very normal person.  Quite different than the woman I knew as a child.

Mental Health Issues

I have been interested in mental health issues for my entire life.  Part of it is purely selfish.  I do not want to die of Alheimer’s.  For my part I am especially interested in bipolar disease, because I have seen many who have it and it is a vicious mental disease.   I remember being younger, a teenager perhaps, and learning that bipolar symptoms are much like an addiction to cocaine.  There are manic highs and super lows and areas in-between.  I once thought of writing a book about my mental health, or lack thereof, but there was just not that much to write about.  I was denied by the local police department from having a gun and I have blessed them many times, even though it seemed like a violation of Amendment II.

My Relationship With God

I leaned heavily on what I perceived to be God.  I still go to Mass four days a week.  I have a very nice poem which was left on my first teaching desk, that said that in the “Loom of Time” I was a darker thread which was needed in order to face the glitter of the more ostentacious threads that made up the final colors of the cloth in the Loom.  The craftsman was God Himself.

Drinking My Troubles Away

I remember that there was one point where I was suffering.  I took the time to stop drinking, which I did not think was a problem, but it had to go.  I have been without alcohol for twenty plus years.  I was better off for the action.  Stopping was definitely the way to go.  I took responsibility for my actions.  As it turned out it was the thing to do.

Childhood Exposure to Guns

I have recently been spending a lot of time thinking about children who grow up around guns.  There are a great number of younger suicides a day.  I grew up with my two guns, my membership in the NRA, and I was listed on their mailing list.   As a child I was fascinated with the guns our father had.  There were my two guns, a shotgun and a 22 rifle, and my father’s pistol, as well as my brother’s two rifles.   This fascinated me.  I had unlimited access to these weapons.  There was an extreme amount of power in my hands back then.  I do not believe that I ever thought of hurting someone, but that power was in my hands.  Therefore, I cannot understand the lack of empathy for young people who are fascinated with gun.

The Lure of the Brady Bill

I am a proponent of the Brady Bill, and I met Mr. Brady when he visited the school I was teaching at, and I was very impressed by his mission and his experience.  The Brady Bill argues that you wait until you are old enough for guns, I believe I have that right.  It is like a car license but far more protected by the government  and their lobbyists who stand on both sides of the issue while standing on the tenuous footsteps of the Second Amendment.

Legal Excuses

It is like having a legal license to drive a car.  These young people are surrounded by the advertising and news on the use of small arms to settle differences.  The youngsters are inundated with it.

 

Small Arms and the General Populace

There must be an attempt to see small arms as a threat to the general populace.  I remember that a child brought a loaded pistol into his school.  It is amazing to me that the children need to develop fear of children who do that type of thing.  Normal kids that day saw the gun and were scared.  The fact that a loaded gun was easy to get into a middle school was frightening.  But it happened.

People who kill people may, as many attest to, be captured so that there crime can be understood.  There were not enough bullets to kill the man who killed sixty people in Las Vegas and then took his own life.  But, he took his own life, which is, in my opinion, the coward’s way out.  It just does not add up.  It was too late to get him because he killed himself.  One serial killer, who murdered thirty nine people, was asked in his cell what his wishes were.  They were to die quickly, as time in his cell was too painful.  John Wayne Gacey was his name.  He buried bodies, after they were reported to have been tortured, under his living room and under virtually every room in his house.  My understanding is that the smell alerted the police.  They then, according to stories, dug up what was left of the bodies.  Gacey was executed, but it was done humanely.  In Utah, seven people, one shooting a blank, volunteered to execute a murderer.  Their aim was true.  He died.  But does not the act of killing another for killing someone make the action that of a killer himself?  Just with a legal excuse to do it.  I believe that the act of killing is heinous in its own right.

William Wallace (Braveheart)

In old England, William Wallace, Braveheart if you will, was summarily executed.  He was slowly cut up and thrown to the bystanders.  He was drawn and quartered.  Maybe we should do that to mass murderers.  Any one person who goes to trial should be forced to die in a way he would use himself, I believe.  He needs to be found guilty of a major crime and he needs to be summarily executed.  And I don’t believe in capital punishment.  But I have to say that if I knew a victim of a mass murderer I would want to push the button, despite my misgivings.

Should the General Populace Become Mental Health Experts

A man’s mental health can be studied.  The mental well-being of the person is vitally important.  The mental illness, or lack of it, shows the mental health, or the lack of it, in the individual.  That is very important, I believe.  But so many of these people commit suicide with their guns, it is hard to determine what drove them to kill.  If we are going to fight this we have to determine what we are fighting.

Small arms are not a right of the general populace.  It should be an award  for those who are faultless.  They are too easy to get, and often they seem to easy to use.  A late friend of mine told me that he had nine thousand rounds in his house.  I asked what war he was going to fight in, and he laughed.  It was really a serious question.

Nine Thousand Rounds

My friend died without using his rounds.   Who knows who got them.  Someone is walking around with enough gunpowder to take down a small city.

Are Guns a Terrorist Threat?

I am not saying that guns are the only terrorist threat, but they can be.  They have used trucks to wipe out many people.  Napoleon used water against  groups in his battles.  So, even water can be used as a weapon.  We question people’s mental health.   Those who have no guns can still murder or commit  suicides.  We need to delve into the people who are not well.  We need to have some understanding about why people are dangerous to themselves or others.

I am with the Brady Bill.  I believe in background checks  for the sale of firearms. Restrictions for guns or automobiles should be the same.  Your capability should be tested and retested.  A number of years ago, a man killed seven of his co-workers in Massachusetts.  There are still active shooters in Massachusetts, despite its strong gun controls.  Many of the weapons emanate from border states that do not have the number of restrictions that Massachusetts has on the books.  Many  weapons in Massachusetts are  plainly illegal.

Gun Possession

Supposedly, gun possession in the state, will result in a one year sentence in prison.  The  actual facts seem  to be grossly different.  I have not heard of one person being sent to  prison solely for gun ownership.  There may be some effect, but it is unlikely to be as restrictive as the law demands.

Laws and restrictions are less effective than delving into the mental health of the gun collector.  It is also easier to go after someone’s mental condition.  We need to protect the rights of our populace.  I recently went to a dinner for a fishing club and the conversation quickly  went to how deadly a certain type of rifle is.   This was a talk about killing and that type of talk can be irresponsible and deadly.

So, let’s register gun owners, especially those with handguns.  We do it to an extent now.  In my opinion we need to do it more often.  I was once a member of the National Rifle Association, and I owned rifles.  I owned and took time to polish guns, specifically rifles.  But I concluded that they were antique and cruel and unusual punishment, so I got rid of them.  For our own mental well-being, let’s restrict guns.  We need to restrict them just as we do automobiles.  You may disagree with me but that is where I stand.

A Few Thoughts on the Election for School Committee

The First of a Few Thoughts

I recently ran, unsuccessfully, for Lowell School Committee.  It was quite a ride.  I learned what my friend, Matthew Donahue once told me, that running for office was  like being a marathon runner who could not choose to quit, despite what the winds of fortune told you.  I now know intimately what he was talking about.  There is a vast difference between being the candidate and being volunteer.  One says you can never get off the horse, while the other gives you plenty of opportunity to do exactly that.   That is the crux of the task.  You have to give everything your all if you are going to be the candidate.

Not all of this will be formed with the milk of human kindness, as Shakespeare called it.  Some of it is just of barnyard variety politics.  But, I will endeavor to be as kind as possible.  Even when I am reciting things that I found distasteful.  Some things cannot be glossed over.

I have three aspects of the political condition.   One incorporates the historical period.  The next, the personal aspects of molding into our times and lives.  The final will be an assessment of the school system as it is currently involved.  The third is the joint effort of two teachers, of which I am one.  It is about the difficulties involved in the assessment of the testing and other aspects of the system that currently makes our statistics marvelous.

The First of a Few Thoughts is our primary pass at telling the beginning of the story.  In it, Dr. K. is the former superintendent, the School Committee is the current School Committee, and I am myself.  I have plenty to say about what transpired in the days of April.  The folly of the past days will be discussed as will the efforts to gloss the story over with what I believe were false and incendiary tactics by a number of persons.

Lowell’s school system is formed of solid truths which emanate from the first days of the school system.  Lowell was a minor town when the school system was formed.  Few saw the need to educate the workers, who were  young women.  Fewer still saw how or why or when the school system would be formed.  One who did envision the school system was the President of the School Committee, a young priest named Theodore Edson, the pastor of St. Anne’s Parish.  He strongly wanted the women to be educated, and he did his best to make sure that they were educated.  His group of mill owners and representatives voted to incorporate a school system using the votes of the progressives in the schools.  Their first vote was close but their second vote was 11 to 3, a marked increase in persons wanting to see the girls educated.

The first location for  a school was  at the Merrimack Mills, located to the north of the current 1922 building of the high school.  Inside that building the management of the Merrimack Mills, including Francis Cabot Lowell (Frank to his friends), was for the education of not only the women but the children of the millworkers.

One person who was not in favor of the vote, or the school system, was the infamous Kirk Boott.  He was the owner of the Boott Mills,  a building which still stands to this day.  He got into many arguments with Dr. Edson, and felt the strings of hatred so greatly that his death is still a matter of history and story.  One day, after many arguments with Dr. Theodore Edson, he got into a fight that ended with his passing down Merrimack Street in front of St. Anne’s Church, a church he helped build.  As he was passing the front of the church, witnesses saw him rise in his chaisse (carriage) and raise his hand towards the open doors of St. Anne’s.  Suddenly, he jerked forward and fell off of the chaisse into the muddy ground of Merrimack Street.  He died as he lay on the ground, of a bout of arteritis or a heart attack, or something.  Either way he breathed his last.  He was buried in Charlestown because he did not want to be buried in Lowell.  That is one of the finest deaths in Lowell’s long history.

Lowell has a long record of working with strong School Committees.  Up until a few years ago, the School Committee was responsible for all taxes inherent in their carrying on of the business of the school department offices.  Dr. Theodore  Edson fit into this pattern perfectly.  He designed the early curriculum.  He visited the schools, he was an integral part of the school system.  At one point he even visited the North Grammar School in Centerville repeated times, working on problems at the school.  It was one of his favorite schools.

The strong educational system designed by Dr. Theodore Edson  continued.  By 1934, long after his death, the school system was admonished “No book or apparatus but such as the Committee approved be used in any of the schools. ”  By 2019, the School Committee voted to break a contract for a Superintendent without a reason given.  It was a political move at best.  It was illegal at the worst.  It opened the Lowell School Department to a lawsuit for violation of a contract.  The case is still in court.  My feeling is that little was proven until after the vote.  Then a minor attempt was made to eradicate the School Committee’s position.  It was not called an audit, but that  is exactly what it was.

In my opinion, the audit was designed in order to make the School Committee look  good and the former Superintendent  look bad.    So what did the audit say, well  I carry it with me everywhere.  It said that the previous Superintendent  was weak in budget matters, that he was incompetent.  It even attacked the owners of PrideStar busing.  It even attacked the owners for building a long overdue Special Education building, which is over the line in Chelmsford.  The audit does point out a couple of areas which are weak and properly places part of the blame on the School Committee.  But the School Committee is responsible for the Superintendent and they shirked that responsibility, I believe.

 

The firing of the Superintendent was done in an amatuerish way.    The former Superintendent was probably not good, but my feeling is that we should have given him a warning and then moved to get rid of him.  By not giving him  a warning, we opened the school department to his lawsuit for breaking his contract, and that was inexcusable.  We were amphibolish, which means that we threw doubt on our motives and effort.

The Forensic Audit was a mild audit designed, in my opinion, to make the Superintendent look bad.  It does that.   He was not good on budgets, he should have been cautioned that he  was not the person who should be running the budget.  That audit was designed, as I have stated, to make the School Committee look good.  I have written audits like that.

 

A Comparison of Lowell Compared to Similiar Towns and Cities

The MCAS figure of Lowell being 263rd. in ranking across the state bothered me to the point that I worked on a comparison of Lowell and its fellow cities and towns.  We did not use towns, as there was not a fair comparison.  We did use a number of cities.  Thirteen to be exact.  Not dissimiliar from Lowell.  Those cities did not include Boston or Newton.  Boston was too large for the examination, while Newton was too small.   Lowell is currently the fourth largest city in the state, although it is said that in the latest census, Cambridge will overtake us.  But for right now Lowell is fourth.  I looked at populations greater than 60,000 persons.

Cambridge and Somerville were significantly more wealthy.  But Lowell is often compared to Cambridge and Somerville was similar in demographics to Lowell.   I determined that 28.6% or more than a quarter of our students come from homes where English is not the first language.  Dr. Joel Boyd EdD. is the Superintendent and he is determined to even that playing field.  Nine of the thirteen cities have higher rates.  Lowell is in pretty good shape.

As far as ELL is concerned, five of the listed cities have higher rates of ELL and 7 are lower so that puts Lowell in the middle.  Lowell’s assimilation of ELL shows that it has much to be proud of, and we are.  I suggest that we find out how many children have joined the high school in the past five years.

We are in the middle with high needs students.  An incredible 72.4% have high needs.  27.6% are not high needs.  All of the communities have high needs.  Lawrence  has 84.4%.  Parental support would be helpful with high needs students.  Some parents, a significant number are intimidated by schools.

A high attrition rate follows the school department.  44.3% leave the eighth grade and do not go on to Lowell High School.  We do not know if they are scared of the renovations.  We honestly do not know where they are going.  Absenteeism is a problem.  40.3% are absent ten or more days.  They are missing a full year to absenteeism.  Cambridge has 9.4% absenteeism.  Kind of high.  In cost per student, Lowell pays $14,077.01 per child per year.  12% are paying to go to Charter Schools.

Our graduation rate is 79.6%, not the 85% we brag about.  The state average is 87.9%.  We are significantly below that.  It is determined that the greatest assests are parents.  It goes to reason, however, that if the students are there we cannot teach them.

Firing of Khelfaoui

On July 3, 2019, the Lowell Sun promised that the School Committee’s reasons for firing Dr. Khelfaoui would be released.  They were not.  In fact, Executive Session was used quite often by the School Committee to not tell what happened to Dr. Khelfaoui.  The rumor that he was in over his head as the head of the school budget was frequently mentioned but the facts seemed to be in abeyance.

Dr. Khelfaoui was frequently seen at this point.  He was part of Lowell’s politic, and given that his firing was, I feel, blatantly political, he was not really allowed to state his case to the fullest extent of his rights.  Again, that is my opinion.

I saw him once during this period, and he and I had been pretty good friends.  So his appearance was no surprise to me.  But it seemed to be a surprise to his captors.  He did not make  a statement as reported by the Lowell SUN, at least not to my knowledge.  He and I had a television show, “Peters’ Principles, the Superintendent’s Session.”  He did this show once per month.  It was a wide open show but at no time did one of his detractors ask to appear on it, even though the invitation was open.  None of them asked to point out his failures.  They ignored the opportunity of the show.

So, in my opinion, he was shunned.

The School Committee Election

The election was exciting.  I enjoyed Michael Dillon, Bob Hoey, Dominick Lay, and Andre Decoutaux.   I believe that I spelled Andre’s last name incorrectly.  There were eleven candidates and only two people on the Committee were discharged.  One was Gerry Nutter, a member who voted to get rid of the Superintendent.  The other was Dominick Lay, who I believed should have been re-elected.  They were replaced by two new candidates.  One came in first and one came in sixth.

Going door-to-door was invigorating but not easy.  If people knew how sick I was, I would have received no votes.  As it was, I got close to three thousand or seven percent.  The first place finisher got eleven percent.  A four percent difference was not that bad.

The biggest mistake I made was printing too many words on my brochures.  I had a lot to say, and I made sure that I said it.   Even if it cost me.  Which it did.

I worked very hard.  I enlisted the help of my friend Phil Shea, the former State Senator and Congressional finalist.  He was very helpful and very nice.  I really enjoyed his company.  He was my Campaign Coordinator.  Others helped but I enlisted my son’s bicycle to more quickly deliver door-to-door.  It greatly sped up my delivery of my brochures.  I used one with me wearing David Herrel’s World Series ring because it felt right.  The only problem I had was when football season started.  I could not get Tom Brady to loan me a football.  So I came out with a new brochure which accented my status as an auditor at Wang, where I found millions of dollars in an audit of Personal Computers and their Maintenance Contracts.  It did not do me any good.  It was a hard lesson to learn.

Finally, there was my fundraising.  My first effort was depressing.  One of the reasons I asked Phil Shea was because he was so good with my brother-in-law Paul Tsongas.  We raised a great deal of money in my second fundraiser.  We raised so much that we did not need a third one.  It was a tough year for some people to raise money.  Not for me, but for some people.  It was a common complaint.

I finished out of the money but I had fun.  The entire experience was enjoyable.  I made a lot of good friends.  People were very kind.  I thank that couple who worried that I  was sweating too much and offered to have an ambulance come and help me.  I remember the man who looked at the baseball brochure and said, “My father is sick in bed but he is going to love this.”  Or the guy who looked at the baseball brochure and said, “I wasn’t going to but I will vote for you based on your brochure.”  It was nice.

 

 

Strategic and Tactical Problems in the Lowell Public Schools

Our schools are not as supported as they claim to be, or as technically advanced as they should be.  One well-placed person asked, rhetorically “Can business help us out?”  What did he mean?  I think that he was posing a question that we all have, how do we make this the best school system by reaching out to people who do not have an interest, a direct interest, in our educational system.  Some businesses do reach out to the professionals in the School Department.  WCAP and the Lowell SUN are two of them.  There are businesses who try to capture the students at the well-situated Lowell High School.   Some of them cater to the students being released at 2PM on Kirk and Merrimack Streets.    We have a very good practice of graduating students who  go on to colleges and universities.  With two colleges in town, we luck out.

 

One thing about Lowell is that Lowellians dream.  They dream amazing dreams.  One of the most notable dreamers was my brother-in-law, Paul Tsongas.  He came up with the Lowell National Park funding, the Lowell Plan, the Lowell National Park, and other things that few of us saw coming, like the Lowell Lelachuer field.  People still  come up to me to say that he made a reality out of his ideas.  I believe that he did.  All of us have our dreams.  Perhaps the biggest dream is the Lowell educational system.

When it was started, in 1826, Theodore Edson went into a feud with Kirk Boott who saw few formative reasons for having a school system.  Boott said that Edson was a dreamer.  Edson went to the people who ran the Merrimack Mills and got the large corporation, whose owners had “deep pockets” (money) to build a school house on the grounds and give the children a place to study.  It was an amazing feat.  Frank (Francis liked to be called that) Lowell helped engineer the school system.  He died a few years too young.

Lowell’s schools were part of the school’s pattern of change.  Edson built a school system that was, at first, not well liked.  It passed its permanent vote by about three votes by the men who ran the mills.  It passed by eleven votes shortly thereafter.  Edson threw that vote into Boott’s face.  Boott was not amused.   Strangely enough, Boott’s  last action was to pass in his chaisse, St. Anne’s Church, and lift his right hand as a sign of disgust, at which time, people viewing him saw him fall off of the chaisse, fall into the mud under the horse-drawn vehicle, and breathe his last.  It was a telling moment.  He refused to have his body buried in his town, but it was removed to Charlestown where it was buried.

Under the presidency of Theodore Edson, the city of Lowell saw its school department grow in multiples.   Early School Committeemen were members of great Lowell families.  Perhaps one of the most prominent was that associated with Frederic Greenhalge later in the century.  Greenhalge, like Benjamin Butler and Paul Tsongas, was elected to a statewide office.  He became Governor but was heard to say as he grew older, that he wanted to be remembered as a Lowell Schoolcommitteeman.  That was where he saw his greatest moments.

Lowellians have always been very interested in politics.  It was no accident that Edson did not want to go on to political office.  But, many people have gone on to higher office after obtaining the office of Schoolcommitteeman.  One who was happy to be on the Committee was  notably  Clement Gregory McDonough, among others.  I am friends with McDonough’s sons, especially Shane.  They are very proud of their father, who served in WWII, and on the Lowell School Committee.  Mr. McDonough believed in neighborhood schools, and while  it looks like few of us can believe in that school program now, it certainly had its day.  I mean, we can say we believe in it, and people always will believe in it, but it is not “part and parcel” of our efforts to have a school system that is not functioning as a diverse unit.

The simple fact is that too many people of a certain race live in Lowell and in just one section of it.  The Cambodian community lives with me in Ward 4 and Ward 8.  We will not get Neighborhood Schools until the city is integrated.  Having the bulk of 27,000 people in one part of the city is bad for that effort.

So, like the Greeks, the Irish, and all of the other  people who called Lowell home, the Cambodians need to be assimilated into Lowell’s diverse culture.  They need to buy real estate in other sections of the city.  When they acheive a balance, they will be introduced to neighborhood schools.  It is too bad that neighborhood schools cannot come about by edict.  We are considered to be an aberation, we, the  court says in its recent voting rights case, are bigoted.  I have Cambodian neighbors on all sides of me.  I do not feel like I am a bigot.  But Ward 4 has to deal with integration with finesse.

So, anyway, that is the clutter around us.  We are considered bigoted without so much as a speaking part in the voting rights case.  I would have argued for keeping the voting structure the same.  Veasna Nuon came in first, Sokhary Chou came in tenth,  Dominick Lay is a good School Committeeman, Rady Mom is safely in a good seat in the State House.  I would argue that we integrated successfully.  Probably, the judge would not have heard me because it looks like his mind was made up.

So, that’s me on Sunday, August 4th. in 2019.   I do not have any power and whatever influence I have has been used up.  I had a wonderful time going door-to-door yesterday, and my vision seemed keen.  I would like to thank the people of Belvidere for their efforts on my behalf to get signatures for the rest of the week.  They were wonderful.  One person got mad at me because I was pro-downtown on the High School question.  But he kept coming back and we had a nice discussion.  I wish everything went so well.

So that’s me.  Not really talking about strategic and tactical problems in the Lowell schools.  I apologize for the title.

Continuing Excellence in Education

  People ask me, rather infrequently, “What is excellence in education?”  Lowell is ranked somewhere around two hundred sixty third of all of the schools and school systems in Massachusetts.  Yes it is. But it has the potential of being excellent, and it has been there \\before. Not recently, but it has been there.  What is excellence in education? It is the idea of excellence, not necessarily the reality of it.

     Lowell once was in the top ten tiered school systems  in the state. Granted, that distinction stopped around the year 1900, but the excellence was there.  One thing Lowell enjoyed was the first evening school, which was well-attended. In the 1880’s, facing a great deal of criticism, Lowell built new schools.  These were referred to as the “jewels in the crown” of Lowell’s educational program. They included the Bartlett School, the Varnum, the Butler, the Pawtucket Memorial, the Moody School, and others.

    People came to Lowell to learn from the  best. A teacher in that day could become a teacher if they passed the lower curriculum.  But, there was no dearth of people coming to Lowell’s school system. And, the mill girls went to the evening school to stay abreast of their learning.

     As I said, people once moved to Lowell to be near its excellent educational structure.  A look at the Kindergartens showed Lowell had kindergartens long before the surrounding towns.  It was an academic time.

 

     Students learned from the curriculum set by Lowell’s tough School Committee.  Frederic Greenhalge was the elected governor of the state, but he said close to his death that he enjoyed his time as a Lowell School Committeeman more than any other office he was elected to, and that included Congress and the governorship

 

.   Under Theodore Edson, the first School Committee President, the School Committee put into action the first extensive curriculum, which included Kindergarten to the twelfth grade.   It was a massive undertaking. They used a number of curriculums, including those that promoted academic ones. Now, we can use those curriculums that were used years ago. Academic curriculums were used to promote learning and history.  Shakespeare was always used in the curriculum. So were others. Science was always taught, and it was always the foremost Science; for instance they taught evolutionary science.

     Interest in Lowell’s schools continued on through time and dropped off after the First World War.  Up until that time, people paid to send their students to Lowell High School. I believe that it is time to shoot for the stars again.  We (Lowell) established, in 1857 the Carney Medals for academic excellence in boy’s and girl’s studies. Girls at that time could not even get themselves recognized in the legal system.  They could not vote. They lost their children in a divorce situation. The men got the family. Why is that important? It just shows how male-oriented the legislative and judicial system could be.

 

     I think it is time that we shoot for excellence in education once again.  It is time to crawl past two hundred sixty third and claw our way back up.  We have a wonderful curriculum department and great teachers. We need to live and study in the best light.  We have a good new Superintendent. It is time to keep him busy. Enough excuses, let’s get to work.

 

     I mean enough excuses.  Whenever I mention our low standing to people, inevitably someone will point out our lower scores due to the types of students we furnish.  Some students are ELL, some are ESL, some are severely challenged, and some have individual disabilities. We should be able to help them and continue to teach the average students in a way that challenges them, and requires effort and hard work.  I had family members who were individually challenged, but they did well thanks to a mother and father who did not let them down. Let us get the mothers and fathers involved. I appreciate that some parents hold on to two or three jobs just to get by  but somehow we need to get a mentor in homes and teach new lessons to the students. We should have phone banks and paid teachers willing to put in some overtime to reach students with homework questions after hours. Phone banks, tutoring, and other methods will not “break the bank.”  We have to be frivolous but fantastic. That is not an easy thing to do.

Running for School Committee III

I think that my best ideas come to me when I am shaving.  There is something about getting rid of that morning beard that just makes things come into focus.  Writer Jack London, one of my favorites, used to tape twenty vocabulary words per morning on the mirror in his bathroom and recite the words until he was satisfied that he had gotten a handle on them.  One morning, I was thinking about all of the hoopla that goes with a small thing, like running for the School Committee.   You do something because your conscience says that you should do it, for myriad reasons, and you turn over a thousand “new leafs.”

I am puzzled by the chagrin associated with running for a relatively small office.  In my opinion, wanting to do it is a good enough reason for igniting the flames of political necessity and make a stand on issues of the day.  I told my Campaign Manager that I was going to run a different campaign.  I was going to publish small newsletters that answered many of the basic questions associated with why you run.  I was going to use my voice to enunciate things that needed to be clarified.  I was going to control the amount of money that was spent, and spend less than the average campaign.  We both looked on this as a good tactic.  Things could only get brighter. Right? Well not exactly.  People use their own measurements for analyzing a run for office.  How many people attended your fundraiser(s)?  How many signs did you put out?  How much money did  you raise?  Those types of questions.

Well, not enough people attended my one fundraiser and I came to the conclusion that that was my fault.  I did not phone people and ask them to come.  I did not realize that you had to do that.  Signs deserve their own analysis and I am going to try to stick to that a little later in this blog.  How much money did you raise?  Well, more than I expected, that much is certain.  I had enough to print my literature.  I had enough to print my signs.  I had enough to pay off my debts.  All in all, I was pleased with my fundraising.  I need to have another soon, and I intend to do that.  Something literally “homey” as it will be about having a fundraiser in the confines of my house.  Hopefully, people with want to see how I live and come for what I hope is a good time.  The last time we had a big party at home was when my daughter, Chloe, graduated from college.  We had many people here on that day.  My good friend, Gerry Durkin, was the man of the hour because, without his help, that graduation would not have happened.  He guided me through UMASS-Lowell’s many contretemps and Chloe was the winner.

But back to signs.  I remember when Councillor and Mayor Murphy put up over seven hundred in one campaign that bordered on the most intelligent effort in local campaigning up until that time.  At the current cost of $12.00 per sign and the cost of putting them on their Erector Set legs, which was about $8.00 per set,  the cost of one sign is about twenty dollars.  Putting out a sign costs roughly $20.00.  When the campaign is finished the signs are generally recycled, if you have an environmentally savvy candidate and the $20.00 cost is lost in the wind.

Let us say that one of the School Committee challengers put most of his effort into getting signs on lawns.  Now, I could go back and put an equal amount of effort into getting my signs on lawns, and instead of costing $20.00 for each sign, it cost $40.00 because I went out and got signs on many of the lawns he had already hit.  There are, of course, six slots in the race for School Committee.  A well-fashioned lawn would be able to hold six signs at 20.00 dollars each.  That totals out to a whopping $20.00 times six persons, or $120.00 per fully stocked lawn.  If people did 100 signs each, it would cost each campaign $2,000.00 to keeping up with the next door sign holders, the Jones’ as it were.  Six signs per lawn costs $120.00.  All of those 600 signs would cost $12,000.00.  Just to wage a full sign campaign.  After all, no one would question whether or not it was prudent to have signs for each of their six candidates.  It would be deemed prudent.

What’s my point?  Well let’s go back to Mayor Murphy.   He put out over 700 signs at $20.00 each.  That totals out to, and I believe that I have this right, $14,000.00 in signs for his campaign.  That is a lot of money.  A person putting out 100 signs would spend $2,000.00.  Money that may have gone into an analysis of the best books available to hedge against reading problems.  Money that might have gone towards a new and better study of mathematical equations.  Something new in Social Studies, perhaps.  A new site for a new television studio.  Something that turns a loss into a gain.

Signs don’t vote, they say.  But actually, they do.  Not the signs themselves but the people who put signs on their lawns do vote.  And, it is probable that they vote for the people whose names are on their lawns.  So we emphasize signs, to the point that we must de-emphasize them.  There are nine people running for each seat, and only six of them will win.  Wouldn’t it be nice if each of those people determined that they would be better off financing something that will make a difference in each classroom?

I question why many of us are enamored with our chances?  Many candidates are running to get on the ballot.  Some are running because they are running for love of the children.  Some are running to make a change.  The voter has the difficult task of determing which candidate is running for which reason?  My doctor told me that it would be difficult because I am doing an issues campaign.  I forgot that, in the sign wars, cost does not matter.  The guy or gal who gets the most signs up wins.  I have been fairly successful in getting my signs up.  Maybe that is good for me.