By Jessica Barnhill
FRAMINGHAM – It is time the children of south Framingham had the same educational opportunities as other students in our community. When do we stop talking theory and confront the real barriers to equity in our community? We must address the social, economic and racial inequities in our system now. We have been talking about it for decades while doing little.
South Framingham needs a new elementary school that provides universal high-quality preschool, with staff and teachers who can relate to students culturally and linguistically. We also need to confront the financial and human cost of busing in our district.
If elected to the School Committee, I will work with other School Committee members to evaluate existing policies in depth, study neighborhood school models and evaluate busing practices, and present our findings with transparency to the public.
Some simple facts to consider are:
- 3 of 9 elementary schools in Framingham are south of Route 9
- 2 out of 3 of our students live south of Route 9
Also consider the following regarding the students of south Framingham:
- 25% are below the poverty line
- 64% speak two or more languages at home
There is a significant achievement gap throughout the district of south Framingham. The availability of high-quality preschool has a direct impact on school performance.
Thus, students from the southside have significantly different opportunities for preschool than their northside peers. It is time for us to implement the best practices like other districts across our Commonwealth and offer universal high-quality preschool that is fair to all our four-year olds district-wide.
I am encouraged by the fact that our Charter gives every neighborhood a voice and vote on School Committee, that voters overwhelmingly voted to construct the new Fuller School, that the Committee voted to eliminate activity fees and expand school lunches, and by Superintendent Tremblay’s great attention to details.
However, we still have much to do to eliminate the disparities in our district. In particular, I hope to be the voice to address the social, economic and racial inequities in our system.
It is time to walk the talk. As a teacher, a mom, taxpayer, and resident I am ready to join the Superintendent and other School Committee members to improve the Framingham public school system and restore balance by creating equal opportunities for every child.
Jessica S. Barnhill is a teacher in the Natick Public Schools and lives with her 2-year old son on Dow Street. She is a candidate for School Committee in District 8.