Stanley Wotring, a Lynn public school parent and education blogger, is seeking his first term on the Lynn School Committee this election year. Wotring is the author behind the blog Lynn School Watch and can often be found sitting in the front row during SC meetings. Here he answers a few questions regarding his views on the current state of the Lynn schools and what is motivating his run for office.
The Lynn Public School District is among the best of the Commissioner’s 10 urban districts in terms of MCAS scores and other academic indicators. What is motivating you to run for Lynn School Committee?
I have a strong desire to point out the actual deficiencies in our perspective that are impeding our progress toward our educational objectives. As parents and citizens we have a right to expect our students are maximizing their potential and make sure the LYNN PUBLIC SCHOOLS fulfill their obligation to ensure that happens.
The statement that preceded your question highlights one of the major problems in terms of perception. The fact of the matter grouping the schools together in an Urban category is little more than mathematical sleight of hand to make the under-performing schools feel better about under-performing. That is not to say that urban schools have unique challenges but at the end of the day their diplomas don’t come with an asterisk.
We need to confront our obstacles to better education in order to overcome them. Overcoming obstacles has become a way of life for me and I look forward to bringing that skill set to the LYNN SCHOOL COMMITTEE.
How would you describe the current state of LPS overall in terms of its educational quality and academic performance? Do you think LPS, a Level 4 school district, is ‘failing’ overall?
Your second question on a large part answers your first. We have areas of strength but the fact that it is a Level 4 district necessarily means that we are failing overall. Our task is to identify our weaknesses and to implement strategies to overcome them. The key is to be objective.
Prior to your bid for School Committee, in what ways have you been involved with schools within the Lynn Public School District (ex. Parent-Teacher Organizations or School Councils) or with advocacy around education-related issues in general?
First I am a parent of two who are entering the ninth grade this year and have only spent one year together in the same school since entering in the first year of Pre-K so my knowledge of how a particular school operates is not limited. The one year my kids were together at FORD I started what I believe to be the first student newspaper in at least a while. The following year when the school librarians were cut from the budget, I volunteered my time keeping the library open and the books circulating, the following year I was happy to be replaced by a real professional. For about four years, I also have served on the SCHOOL IMPROVEMENT COUNCIL at FORD.
I have been attending almost all of the school committee meetings for over three and of course I have my blog, LYNN SCHOOL WATCH. I started it 3 years ago this month (July) as a way to share some of the insights fighting for the educational rights of my children. I am approaching 270,000 views of my blog. My e-mails have been blocked from Lynn Public Schools. I get a lot of positive response while at the same time, many are afraid to be seen with me. I believe strongly that with the free flow of information can help us make better decisions
What do you believe to be the role of the School Committee in overseeing and improving the city’s public education system? If elected, how would you fulfill your duties as an SC member?
I hope to instill more creativity in the classroom. Sure we need to hire good teachers but we need to let them teach. Granted we may be hampered by regulations on a state and federal level but we need to stand for more autonomy in the classroom. How can we expect the students to respect the teachers when the administration does not give them enough respect? I feel that too much of our resources are being spent on salaries of people our children hardly if ever see. A greater percentage of our educational dollar should be spent on services and materials that directly impact our students.
If elected, I will work FULL-TIME pursuing the educational needs of our students. Fortunately I will not have to divide my time between other work responsibilities. I will be full-time, all the time. Our kids are our future but we shape that future now.
Where can voters get more information on your candidacy for SC?
This is a funny, yet easy question. I could give a one word answer, “GOOGLE”. My positions, like them or not, are all over the Internet. If you are still hungry for more I recommend you search the ITEM. Not only have I appeared in numerous stories, I’ve written a few “Letters to the Editor” If you still haven’t had enough I am sure I’ve shown up on a few LYNNcam broadcasts.
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