, Salem, MA

October 28, 2013

Letter: Schultz, Hunt best choices for Salem schools

The Salem News

---- — To the editor:

On Nov. 5, the voters of Salem have the opportunity to make real changes in the Salem public schools. It is no secret that our schools are underperforming, but this is a problem that can be fixed by voting for better leadership on the School Committee.

For too long, Salem schools have been led by a School Committee that believes that this is the best we can do. They are more interested in fighting the commissioner of education than improving instruction for our students. They have used their seats on the School Committee as a soapbox for their own opinions and platitudes, rather than using their position to research and support the delivery of high-quality education for all Salem students.

Current School Committee members have often publicly declared that Salem will never do well on MCAS tests because of our demographics. The School Committee is part of the leadership team in the school district. When your leadership is sending the message that there is no hope, then failure is assured. Yet, other districts with much more challenging demographics than ours have done the work of aligning their curriculum, putting appropriate assessments in place, training and supporting their staff on differentiated instruction, and have shown marked increases in MCAS results.

We, as a community, need to support our kids by electing School Committee members who will work hard for higher expectations and standards. We need a School Committee that is accountable for student success. We need a School Committee that will also set appropriate and high-achieving goals for our superintendent and hold him accountable.

Both Patrick Schultz and Rachel Hunt have sound education experience both in the classroom and in administration.

Patrick Schultz was a high school history teacher in Salem and assistant principal at Chelsea High and has also worked in education reform by bringing Advanced Placement programming and pre-AP programming to many urban school districts. These programs have been proven to increase academic rigor and challenge students to achieve at a higher level. In addition, he has been an active member of the Salem High School Council, advocating for higher expectations and curriculum alignment. He also led Salem’s District Turnaround Committee, which recommended many of the initiatives adopted in the district’s Accelerated Improvement Plan.

Rachel Hunt began as a middle school teacher in Salem and now is head of the Salem Academy Community Charter School. She has already done the work at that school to improve instruction, bringing the school to a Level 1 status, in spite of demographics that are comparable to the Salem Public Schools.

Vote for Patrick Schultz and Rachel Hunt for School Committee on Nov. 5. It’s time for real leadership, vision and expectations.

Lindsay Morsillo