Wildwood new Mega School project on the November 8th ballot
From: Debbie Westmoreland
Dear School Committee Members:
I grew up in Amherst and am an ARHS alumna as well as my son. I am extremely active with the Hurricane Athletic Boosters and am on the Board of A Better Chance (ABC) House. Although I do not currently have children in our schools, I am deeply involved with funding programs which benefit many students. I am proud of our schools, teachers, programs and especially our students!
I am also a business professional in Amherst - specifically a Realtor. Realtors promote our community and all of its amenitiesto families, young professionals, and retirees who wish to settle here. Realtors greatly depend upon the viability of the public schools to sell our community and create confidence around a major home purchase.
Over the past three years I have witnessed the dysfunction of the school committees (Regional, Amherst and Pelham). The infighting amongst members and the negative press our public schools are receiving in the Hampshire Gazette/Amherst Bulletinas a result is horrifying!
It is abominable to think that the personal agendas of a few members has created this major schism in what was once a stable, collaborative and mindful group. To listen to self-proclaimed activists destroy our schools and community is deplorable.
These so-called activists are simply masquerading under the guise of commitment, but in reality are intent on destroying Amherst. In particular, I blame two members for the demise of school committee credibility ____________and Vira Cage should be ashamed of themselves!
I must remind you that your actions and decisions reflect greatly upon the economy and growth of our community. As a long-time Amherst resident and Realtor, it is becoming extremely difficult to accept a school committee system that is so broken. I no longer want to explain to clients and potential residents the school committee “situation” that is reported in the media. I much prefer to focus on the strengths of our community’s public schools.
I implore all school committee members to be mindful of the community, public schools, teachers and students at all times. As elected officials, please listen to constituents and stop listening to yourselves!
Karen S Dunn
Vira Douangmany Cage response posted to Facebook:
I wrestled with sharing this public document but I think it is more important for people to see what folks of color experience when we challenge the status quo...even in a progressive community like Amherst. I redacted the other school committee of color named and cell phone numbers.
On Fri, Sep 30, 2016 at 11:06 AM,
Dear Ms. Dunn:
Thank you for writing in below. I am glad you are so open about your view and expressing them in such a public way. That takes courage and commitment.
Thank you for sharing your philanthropic causes to help the ABC House and our athletes.
Thank you for sharing that negative media attention is destroying Amherst and our schools and thank you for feeling so comfortable in naming me as your scapegoat.
I know your confidence comes from a very powerful and entrenched place of privilege in this community.
While I welcome your comments, I am not clear about what specifically you are shaming me for?
Are you shaming me because I support Amherst small schools and voted against the elementary school grade reconfiguration and consolidation plan? Many white homeowners are not happy and have said they will remove their children from our public schools if the mega-school proposal goes through.
I like preserving our K-6 elementary schools (what is left!) don't you? The people of color I know don't like it either. Marks Meadow was a gem but parents lost that struggle.
Are you shaming me for calling our school committee to successfully restore the paraeducator positions that were set to be eliminated in our elementary school libraries?
Are you shaming me for attempting to protect the public's money in voting against our previous school superintendent buy-out? Certainly, it wasn't my personal money I was giving away.
Are you shaming me for standing up for a particular mom of color from Pelham? I think it is a mistake to dismiss her plight because there is an assumption she has no money or social capital and therefore we can get away with the oppression and vilification and violation of her civil rights.
I read your letter, however, I am not understanding your basis for your public condemnation.
Feel free to clarify.
Have a great day!
Vira Douangmany Cage
Amherst School Committee Term 2015-2018