Andover Townsman, Andover, MA

Education

January 26, 2012

Seifert column: Right questions, planning will solve schedule snafu

From time to time we hear about "the 800-pound gorilla in the room." The metaphor is used as an example of something that is obvious to most people, but they don't want to talk about it.

For a few years now that gorilla at Andover High School has been the block schedule. It has become so big that it has contributed to a work to rule for all the schools, the School Committee is now against the teaching labor force and the issue could result in a lower rating when the Accreditation Committee presents its final report. Our standing in the valley is not what it could and should be.

There are people in our town who say, "I wish I could sell my house and move out of town." There are others who say, "If I had the money I would send my children to private or parochial schools." This situation is most unfortunate. The present School Committee members have said they want Andover to become an innovative school system with national recognition. I believe what they say. However, it is how you propose to do something that makes all the difference in the world.

The teachers are in the midst of a serious internal political battle that has significant consequences. There are those who are adamant about the work-to-rule strategy. There are those who have mixed feelings. There is a third group that is utterly embarrassed that the group would withhold services to children because the contract is not signed.

The question that is most important is, what is the percentage of truly professional teachers who put their classrooms first and their wallets second. They are the most critical part in a good school system.

It is going to take some time to sort out who wants to do what, a strategic plan that makes sense, and both sides who work toward the same goal: the best education of our children within our ability to pay. In my opinion, it is very possible. I know the major players on both sides and have always believed reasonable people can come to reasonable solutions.

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