Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Lynn School Committee 2017 Q & A: Michael Satterwhite

Michael Satterwhite is one of the ten candidates running for the Lynn School Committee this election cycle. Here he discusses why is running for the LSC.

Why did you decide to run for School Committee this year?

I decided to run for School Committee this time around because I felt I was able to be committed to such an important role in the City. Prior to running for Lynn School Committee I have had the opportunity to grow my law practice, I have been involved with the Lupus Foundation of America's Boston Walk to End Lupus Now (raising hundred of thousands of dollars towards research, a cure, and awareness), I have been involved with the Counter Influence and mentoring youth. I have been able to hire additional staff and I resigned from all but two of the boards or organizations I was involved with so that I can focus on my campaign. I am currently involved as Secretary of the Board for Good Hope, Inc and Chairman of the Steering Committee for Lynn Community Connections Coalition. Both Good Hope and Lynn Community Connections Coalition are non-profit organizations that focus and advocate for families and children. http://www.goodhopeinc.org/main-page.html & http://eccf.org/node/1395

How have you previously been an advocate for public education?

Prior to becoming a lawyer, I was a businessman. I have held leadership positions in nationwide businesses and have made it a cornerstone to give back to the communities in which we serve. I have always been involved with my community, receiving the Citizen and Community Service Award from the City of Lynn in 1999. My award was based on the work that I did with the public schools (volunteering at the library, peer leadership and helping the front office). In addition, I have spent several years mentoring our City’s youth. It has never been about me. As a lawyer, my business motto has been “Our community is our business.”

As a lawyer, I advocate for what is right: “Michael worked with my husband & I on a landlord-tenant issue in which we felt victimized by our former landlord. He immediately informed us of our rights & assisted in putting all of our paperwork & case together. He encouraged us to follow through and to not back down. Not only is Michael professional, but he is supportive & encouraging. Michael's passion lies in advocating for what is right & what his clients are entitled to. You should consider yourself very fortunate if you find Michael to represent your needs."

Tenant Client. "Michael handled the closing sale of my house, while I moved out of state. I was relieved to know that my affairs were in order, without my presence at such an important life decision. Michael is a great man of God and a great lawyer." David M. Real Estate Client.

I have received both the Teen Volunteer of the Year and the Volunteer of Year award from Volunteer's of America, always pushing for better public education. As an attorney, I have held public schools accountable under IEPs. Accommodating students with disabilities and special needs are a must and I have represented students who were not afforded proper accommodations. My involvement with the Lynn Community Connections Coalition has been working with organizations and agencies serving Lynn children to identify and address the unmet needs of Lynn families. I am very much an advocate for children in Lynn public schools. In addition, I have mentored many students who receive a public education.

On your website, you write that you want your kids to “have the best possible education, period.” What specifically does that mean to you?

It is tough to envision the goals for the Lynn Public Schools materializing without a team of school committee members that have the background, experience, and knowledge of how the school system works and how to deliver the needs of our students and educators.

Growth, which is sometimes slower than we want, must be steady and controlled. I firmly believe we have laid a solid foundation from which to grow upward with our Lynn Public Schools. Lynn Public Schools have some of the most qualified educators, some of the brightest students and a community that is hungry for growth. We must move forward from any initial trepidation our City government has had about our growing student population. We must be ready for expected growth and the expected transitions. We must not leave any student behind and we must provide all necessary tools to our educators. In the book I am currently reading it states “it is better to die trying than die dying”. We should not stay in the same place and do the same thing.

We have such a diverse body of students and we have the opportunity to truly integrate an education system that works for all students. The best possible education is not necessarily about the material that is taught, it is about the environment in which the education is taught. I have researched the thousands of pages on the middle schools’ material published in 2015-2016. I have gone back 7 years on the “State of the Schools” issued by Lynn Public School administrative offices and researched which implications and growth transpired. We need growth and that will happen with accountability. An example: We need focus on all educators and students throughout our school system and we must provide the best available tools. I have heard from hundreds of educators and parents about the current IEP system and have heard several complaints, in the 2015 "State of the School" the public schools stated "Explore possible conversion of Easy IEP to the eSchoolPlus “IEPPLUS”. Conversion has been explored and is not feasible at this time. Our current program is more comprehensive, less expensive and easier to use." If we are still using a system that is not user-friendly and parents are unable to interact with the said system, the educator and the student have to deal with the consequences. Several dozen school districts and parents praise the eSchoolPlus “IEPPLUS” system.

You also advocate for an “improved” relationship between families and LPS. Do you currently believe that the relationship overall is currently strained? If so, why and how do you think it can be improved?

Our children are our foundation. Many of us view our children's lives as a measure of our success. To have a strong family foundation, everyone must be involved in the family unit and this includes involvement in our children's education. I want to improve Lynn Public Schools to help students find their value and understand that our City has not turned its back on them. This starts with opening a better dialogue between families and schools. We need each student to excel and be a great asset to the community and we must try our hardest for each student to find their value and their purpose. We can start improving relationships by establishing a new subcommittee on the Lynn School Committee focusing on community. The community subcommittee will focus on establishing stronger PTA/PTOs in our schools, working with local Head Start programs to establish a sufficient transition plan for our students entering Pre-K and Kindergarten, working with student governments to hear from our students, and working with North Shore Community College to ensure our students have sufficient path to further education or career training after high school.

Our School Committee policy states the following: http://www.lynnschools.org/documents/district/policy_manual/POLB.pdf#page=0

“In accordance with these principles, the School Committee, through its operations, will seek to achieve the following:

1.To concentrate the committee's collective effort on its policy making and planning responsibilities.
2. To formulate committee policies that best serve the educational interests of each student.
3.To provide the Superintendent with sufficient and adequate guidelines for implementing committee policies.
4.To maintain effective communication with the public it serves and with staff and students in order to maintain awareness of attitudes, opinions, desires, and ideas.”

How else can we better achieve the fourth paragraph without a subcommittee focused on the community we serve?

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