Women on the Ballot

It amazes me that the American Federation of Teachers and the Lowell “Sun” both refused to endorse any woman except perennial front-runner Rita Mercier to a spot on the School Committee or City Council. There are three women running for School Committee, and they deserve endorsements. Two of them, Connie Martin and Jackie Doherty, have served multiple combined years on the Committee.

It is not that Lowell has no record of women in educational offices. Two of our Assistant Superintendents are women. Those would be Jean Durkin, wife of former member of the School Committee and City Council, Gerry Durkin. There is also Claire Abrams, sister of playwright Jack Neary, who has carved himself a nice little niche in Lowell’s writing community. He is quite popular. His brother, Jim, is in School Administration.

Well, if it is OK to be a woman in school administration then where does the AFT and the Sun get off refusing to endorse three very fine and active women in the School Committee? As I have pointed out in other blogs, women were the predominant players in the advent of the new school system. By 1859, there were 57 school houses in Lowell, with almost all of them being run by women who gave up marriage and children because the male-dominated School Committee did not want to have to explain pregnancy to their children and “scholars,” as they called them.

I firmly believe that it is time to come out of the 1850’s. Women would be an asset to the school department. After all, there are over 50% teaching at this time in Lowell. If they voted as a group, they could greatly upset the apple cart that the AFT and Sun have spent so much time cultivating.

If Rita Mercier is their mutual example of a fine candidate, then they are absolutely right. If Rita Mercier is an example of women in government in Lowell, imagine how great the government of this city could be if they elected additional women in office.
If the three women running for School Committee could serve as well as Rita, what a city we would have!

Most teachers are women. They deserve gender recognition in the School Committee. The AFT and the Lowell “Sun” have made a major mistake in giving the impression that they are banding together and offering just men for a position in the School Committee.

I believe that the reason the AFT did not endorse the women is because those women voted against unrealistic pay raises in past votes. Would it be possible to have a man standing up like that to the union? Connie Martin and Jackie Doherty both have records, and they are willing to stand by them. Show me some guys in that situation, and they would be worthy also of a vote for School Committee. I intend to vote for the best candidates, not those who might be more controllable. Do not get me wrong, some of those men deserve a seat. They too, have records. But it seems awfully strange that there are no women who qualify for the School Committee. Women, get out your vote! It might be the best time to show Hilary Clinton and Niki Tsongas that you are a force to be reckoned with.

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