Monthly Archives: August 2016

Doors Open in Lowell

I have written a great deal about my hometown of Lowell, Massachusetts and its school system. It is a stellar school system, ripe with anecdotal stories, one of the first systems to have an evening school, and one of the first to recognize girls as well as boys in its awarding of the highly coveted Carney Medals for Academic Excellence.

Over the course of the past year, under the tutelage of Superintendent Salah Khelfaoui, Ph.D, the schools have been earnestly looking for a parental level of involvement that surpasses that which existed before in the last decade. In keeping with that goal, the Superintendent has restarted the Citywide Parent Council, beefed up the Parent Teacher Organizations, and started a Strategic Plan with such planning being an integral part of the effort.

“What we have discovered through our work on the Strategic Plan, is that there are a lot of parents, community leaders, community members, and taxpayers that want to know more about our schools and participate in the decision-making process.” So says Anne Sheehy, the Assistant Director of Human Resources and an integral part of the Superintendent’s team. Anne has a good name, comes from a powerful family in the city, and is a very good person to be pushing the Strategic Plan. I know Anne well enough that I know she would be the first to say that all of this was Dr. Khelfaoui’s (Kalfowi) work and idea. But I feel that she has a good hand on the pulse of the school system.

“We are excited about the prospect of having the parents involved in the school system, to the point that we have made it a priority to start up the Doors Open project,” according to Dr. Khelfaoui. “The Doors Open project is our effort to get the parents involved in meeting with our excellent teachers and staff. Schools will be open on a staggered basis, with all of the schools to be open at some point in the school year. It does not diminish our efforts to keep parents involved through the Citywide Parent Council and the PTO’s,” he said. “However it allows parents to visit teachers and administrative staff in a structured way.”

The first schools to be opened on Wednesdays includes the:

Doors Open for 2016 and 2017

September 7 – Daley, Bailey, and Molloy Career Academy Schools
October 5 – Sullivan, J.G. Pyne, and LeBlanc Schools
November 2 – Butler, Shaughnessy and Cardinal O’Connell Schools
December 7 – Peter W. Reilly and Stoklosa Schools
January 4 – Bartlett Community Partnership and Robinson Schools
February 8 – Christa McAulliffe, Murkland, and Greenhalge Schools
March 8 – Moody School and Edith Nourse Rogers STEM Academy
April 5 – McAvinnue, Pawtucketville Memorial, and Dr. An Wang Schools
May 3 – Morey and Abraham Lincoln Schools
June 7 – George Washington and Laura E. Lee Schools

All Doors Open sessions are approximately 10AM to 12 Noon

Bus will pick up participants at 10:00 AM at Lowell Public Schools Office of Human Resources @ 155 Merrimack Street in Downtown Lowell.

Again, the Doors Open program is designed to get a chance to see the children in their school environment. Be there, your child would like to see you visiting. I personally hope that you will see a little of your school years in your excited child’s eyes.

Remember, the purpose of Doors Open is to increase “the awareness and involvement in our schools which will give way to a new era of community participation. This year Lowell will continue to collaborate in meaningful ways with the wide variety of families, community partners, interested citizens, and community leaders in Lowell.”

Campaigning with Rady Mom (re-post)

A friend of mine recently said, jokingly I think, that Rady Mom should just change his slogan to “Vote for Mom.” I have had the chance to see Rady working the campaign trail up close and personal, as they say, and I have to tell you, there is nothing this man takes for granted. He works every house, and talks to every person he can. I was amazed at how much of the literature we passed out in just two or three hours. It was in the hundreds.

He started out the day at the Greater Lowell Area Democrats (GLAD) meeting, where he was introduced by Secretary of State Bill Galvin. That floored him. He shook hands with as many of the five hundred people who were there as he could, then went out to talk to eight hundred fifty people in two temples or churches, I cannot accurately say if they were one or the other.

I had put in a request for some assistance in Ward Three, because he had done Ward Four and he said he would go with me. So, not realizing what I was in for, I went door-to-door, where he picked up sign locations, and good wishes from people who owned the house or people who just waved at him from their cars. I had expected a demure, health-worker. I got a polished politician.

In a couple of days, he is scheduled to get on “City Life,” John McDonough’s show. I know that he will be ready for it. The entire event, and the party I attended of his on Wednesday of last week, convinced me that there are direct co-relations to Paul Tsongas’ parties of the 1960’s and 1970’s. The food was delicious, and ethnic. The speeches were all tinted with humor. There are many regular run-of-the-mill people supporting him. I feel that he has bridged the gap between being an ethnic politician and being a total person who can appeal to a great many people.

There are many of us who fail to see the connection between a Paul Tsongas and a Rady Mom. It is there. There are the well-attended and, in earlier times, more sparsely attended, parties. There is the Tsongas refrain of “I was just lucky,” and the Rady Mom declarations that ring out as just the same, but at a different time. There is the joking about parental concerns when your father, as he was in Paul’s case, is a Republican and your son is a Democrat. Granted, that is not a problem Rady has, but his sense of humor reminds me of that. There is the division between people who support you for who you are and those who support you because you are ethnic. I remember Paul joking at a fundraiser about being the only Greek on Fairmount Street in Belvidere. At least, I believe I remember that joke. It was funny and maybe true at the same time.

Do not get me wrong, I am not comparing a State Representative seat to a Congressional seat. I am just comparing the two men. I am impressed that Rady Mom is surprised that Bill Galvin would think of him and mention him to a large crowd of people. It shows a humility that I think is alluring. I just hope that, if Rady Mom gets elected, he will be able to appeal across the lines of ethnicity and concentrate on those things that he keeps talking about, like the Rourke Bridge and the need for a new one. I hope that he can be a Kevin Murphy. I believe that he can.

In the beginning of this race, I could not decide who I was going to vote for, they are both nice guys and superior in their intellect. I am pleased that two such nice people are there to represent the best of the Highlands and the Acre. But, after careful thought, and a great deal of writing on my Pluses and Minuses paper, I have determined that I will go for the Democrat.