To the editor:
“New thinking and new results.” That’s the slogan Rick Johnson is using in his run for the Salem School Committee. Looking at our performance as a system over the last decade-plus, I think that’s what Salem needs. Not excuses or blaming the state. We need more accountability, better communication and less confrontation. I strongly endorse him for one of the three available seats. Why is Rick one of my choices? His history of activism in the school system and the experiences he’s had on behalf of his own family. His son, Trevor, is a student in sixth grade, along with my son. He had his special-needs child at Bentley just prior to the Level 4 status designation. The special ed process provided him with an inside look at the school, which allowed him to see firsthand how leadership dysfunction affected his child’s education. As a result, they went through the process and waiting involved in changing schools and were able to ultimately move him to Saltonstall. Once that took place, he saw the difference that a well-functioning school that embraces communication and collaboration can make in a child’s life. Rick believes that every student can achieve at a high level, especially if there are systems in place that support teachers and students and put them in a position to succeed. He wants to be the voice of the Salem parents on the School Committee.
I also am very encouraged by Rachel Hunt and plan to give her a vote, as well. Rachel taught in the Salem public schools before founding the Salem Academy Charter School in 2004. She has done a phenomenal job running the Salem Academy, and it’s been extremely successful. It is ranked among the top high schools in Massachusetts. With the Salem Academy’s success, we see that Salem’s students do have potential. Some of the things that have been proven to work there are now finally being implemented in the other schools. A good example of this is ANet testing, which the Academy has been already doing. There are people who are opposed to Salem Academy’s existence — some of them already on the School Committee — but the fact is they are here to stay, getting the job done, and the more we collaborate with them, the better it will be for the rest of our schools.
My third vote among these equals goes to Patrick Schultz. I’m sure you are all familiar with Pat. He runs a successful business in Salem, the Howling Wolf. Maybe you know him from there, but before that he was a successful educator who left a mark on many of our graduates. He has an outstanding track record: assistant principal in the Chelsea school system, former teacher here in Salem, and the chair of our turnaround committee. He also has been on the Salem Education Foundation board. He has the experience and the knowledge that we need right now in Salem of a career educator, but with a modern approach. He cares so very much about getting the best outcome for the Salem Schools and moving us out of crisis and into excellence.
Rick Johnson, Rachel Hunt and Patrick Schultz are clearly the three strongest choices for the Salem School Committee. Rick seeks more responsive, accountable governance. Rachel brings her proven results from building the Salem Academy. Patrick Schultz has the up-to-date experience and knowledge that we need right now in Salem. If you want the Salem Schools moving in a better direction, we need a better School Committee. Three candidates can bring that change for us. I will be voting for them on Nov. 5 and urge you all to do so, as well!