By John Monfredo, retired WPS teacher and principal and former Worcester School Committee member
Small groups are best when it comes to teaching. photos submitted.
Yes, folks there is a local election taking place this year. Candidates have until May 30 to file Municipal Election Nomination papers at Worcester City Hall. Also, the last day to register to vote for the preliminary election is August 26.
Unfortunately, in past Worcester elections there has been a low voter turnout during our local elections. It’s frightening to think that a community can pass laws and implement programs without the approval of the majority of its citizens. In the last local election Worcester had a 16% voter turnout among registered voters! Across the nation it has been reported that unqualified candidates have set back a community because they won by a few votes.
I urge our readers to find out who is running for office and be sure to vote this year. In addition, the media has not stepped up enough in the past to encourage voters to make voting a priority. A study from Johns Hopkins University cited insufficient media coverage as a potential cause for its citizens not being informed about local politics. Local elections have real consequences. Whether it is the guarantee of having healthy drinking water, having police in the high schools for safety purposes, concerns over an outdated infrastructure, increases in the tax rate, education reform, busing issues and paving streets. We need these issues addressed by
our elected officials. Apathy and low voter turnout should not continue to define local elections.
Thus, CECELIA/InCity Times is taking the lead to encourage voters to turn out to vote. It’s that important. It is critical to exercise your right to vote, for it’s one of the key freedoms of America’s way of life.
The next problem for our voters is to figure out for whom to vote and what the issues are. I’d like to encourage more participation and urge community members to consider running if they believe that they can make a difference in our city. For this edition of CECELIA/InCity Times, I have sent an email out to several individuals in the community and asked them to
consider the top issues that both groups (City Council and School Committee) need to address:
🇺🇸Worcester City Council … Many parents want to know, in light of the violence taking place in the community, whether the city council will consider funding police presence in the high schools as they did in the past. They want to hear the reasons for or against
from the candidates. A group of voters wrote about their concern about the increase in the tax rate and want answers on how the City can acquire additional revenue from our non-profits such as all the colleges and universities in our city.
Voters wrote to me about the homeless in our city and felt more needed to be done. Many people in
homeless shelters are afflicted by addiction. The voters wanted to know if assistance is being given to those in need of social services.
A few wrote to me about State Senator Moore’s bill on “smart meters.” They would like candidates to address this bill on its safety merit for its citizens. The bill calls for opting out of the smart meter. Another voter is concerned about the makeup of candidates and wants to hear from moderate
candidates, for the voter feels candidates need to step up on local issues rather than focus on grandiose social justice warriors interested more in national than local problems.Others voiced their concerns about a reliable internet service and are not happy about Spectrum. Since the city’s 10-year contract runs out in October with Spectrum, many of them feel a change should be considered. One voter wrote, “It’s poor and expensive.”
Another voter stated that the city council needs to look into
the fiber optics service now being touted by Verizon. All want to hear Council candidates address this issue.
Others want the Worcester City Council to address the street repairs in our city and do a better job paving streets and fixing potholes.
🇺🇸The Worcester School Committee… One voter wrote: “The main issue seems to be “visibility” “involvement” and “knowing the constituents” (the Worcester Community).
I have also had the opportunity to talk with most of them. I am thinking that the new School Committee and City Council would benefit from speaking to the different directors of the School Department and catch up on what each department is doing to support our students and parents. A walk-thru of the schools would also be beneficial, as it would help them get a good idea of the school day and how a school is run.
“Are School Committee and City Council members visible and at the schools? Are they meeting with
parents or community agencies?”
Also, there is confusion (noted during School Committee meetings) between ESL, Transitional Bilingual Program structure and the Dual Language Program. We have many ELS. We also have FEL (former English Learners). What does this mean to our system for assistance?”
This voter wrote: “I attended a session by the Worcester Education Collaborative on the MCAS and was surprised how there were statements made about WPS, ESL, etc. How can we help educate ALL stakeholders? It seems that they too lack a lot of knowledge on WPS. I noted that there were NO School Committee or City Council members there. At this point, I am listening and taking careful note of where I see them and what they say …”
Parents voiced concerns about the need of having more full-day preschool programs, summer sessions and after school help for the students. They would like those issues to be addressed.
Others spoke about the curriculum and would like the Worcester School Committee to address programs that deal with college readiness issues.
Go, Worcester Public Schools!!
Many want to know the educational background that candidates bring to the table and want to know if the candidates know the city’s neighborhoods. Many parents want to know how the candidates feel about the use of cell phones in the schools and what the School Committee’s ideas are about how to curb violence, absenteeism and truancy in the schools.
Other ideas expressed by the voters included bullying prevention, air quality in the schools, service learning, sex education, and whether CPR training has continued in our schools.
This is just a snapshot of issues that Worcesterites want addressed. Now, as we move into the campaign season, let’s hope that these issues, as well as others, will be addressed by our political candidates. We will continue to stay on top of the issues during this all-important local election!