Woman of the Year

December 28, 2010
By

Dr. Catherine Latham

We haven’t always agreed with Dr. Latham but we have never questioned her sincerity or thought for one moment that everything she does is an effort at improving the Lynn Public School System.

In many, many respects, Dr. Latham is an urban warrior, fighting the good fight at a time when Lynn’s public schools are greatly challenged by outside forces and situations over which it has very little control.

Dr. Latham is the first woman to hold the superintendent’s position in this city’s history.

So at first blush, that’s saying something right there.

Second, she’s the highest paid city official running a sprawling department with more than 1000 employees and operating a yearly budget in excess of $100 million.

Dr. Latham holds arguably the most challenging position in the city of Lynn.

Managing the Lynn School System is not a walk in the park.

There are many competing constituencies – and everyone’s needs must be met.

Many of the school buildings are old and in need of replacement.

Many teachers have outlived their usefulness as teachers and need to be asked to leave and to be replaced.

Many of the new teachers coming in and the younger teachers who have been at it a while, need her support and understanding – and by all accounts – they have that.

We congratulate Dr. Latham for doing a good job with the cards stacked against her.

We congratulate her on being named the Lynn Journal’s Woman of the Year.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000169586579 Stanley Wotring

    I feel compelled to respond to the Lynn Journal’s selection of Dr. Catherine Latham as Woman of the Year for 2010. This brings to mind questions of the paper’s credibility and perhaps even integrity as a news source.

    Since I started my blog, Lynn School Watch, in July I have occasionally been critical of Dr. Latham’s performance as school superintendent this year but I have also given her praise in my most recent critique of her performance on a particular issue.

    There is no doubt that she has a difficult task. Lynn is the fifth largest school system in the state and in a time of dwindling resources, the degree of difficulty only increases. To tout her level of sincerity as a justification for her selection is ludicrous and irresponsible. Using what many would call a misjudgement or misperception, only raises doubts about your paper’s professionalism and quality of journalism.

    One reason given for her winning of this award was that she was the first woman to be a superintendent of Lynn schools. What about the fact that Mayor Kennedy was the first woman elected mayor of Lynn? Mayor Kennedy’s is a much harder and larger job. And oh yeah, she is Dr. Latham’s boss.

    I know it’s asking a lot but let’s stick to the facts. Two of Lynn’s elementary school achieved Level IV status this past year. Maybe she was not responsible for these school’s reaching that status but she has been responsible for their Turnaround plans I have attended all of the LSC meetings since spring of 2010 with the exception of the Sept. 28th meeting that I missed due to cataract surgery and there were many questions raised about the quality of these plans, especially about the level of parent involvement.

    During a time when our student’s MCAS scores are falling, the libraries of most of our elementary schools are closed. We should be adding libraries not closing them. We need a thorough accounting of the four million dollars or so of federal and state money that has been infused into our school system.. This has been promised and I look forward to analysing the list of expenditures.

    Then I have heard from multiple sources that three more schools will achieve Level IV designation this fall. Two of the three middle schools in the city are supposed to be given a failing label. If my sources are correct then Dr. Latham’s responsibility can not be denied. I do not have access to all of the confidential reports that would verify my concerns or would vindicate Dr. Latham’s performance. When you have no answers, you are only left with questions.

    I have been on the opposite end of Dr. Latham’s bullying tactics during my recent struggles to get my special needs son the educational services he is entitled to by federal law. I was repeatedly warned about her temper and alternating periods of crying as an attempt to intimidate and effect the outcome of meetings with her. I have been dinner guests along side a senator and a member of the House of Representatives on two different occasions so her superior education and extra initials after her name was not enough to scare me away.

    My son has been the beneficiary of my successful encounter with Dr. Latham and has made the honor roll at Pickering due in no small part to the level of services that I fought to have included in his IEP.

    At a recent LSC meeting Dr. Latham expressed her outage through tears at the characterization of Lynn’s Public Schools in a Lynn Journal article about KIPP breaking ground. The severity of her reaction makes the paper’s designation of her as “Woman of the Year” both surprising and suspect. How did Dr. Latham suddenly become worthy of the paper’s adoration.

    The inequalities in Lynn’s Public School system has inspired me to found my blog, Lynn School Watch, to focus attention on the problems of our children’s education. Their future and ours depends on our

  • Mr Chan Heot

    Mr Wotring,
    Your blog is an embarrassment to the school system. Where else but in Lynn can a volunteer come in and then write such negative things about the place? Only in Lynn. Any other place you would be asked to leave and escorted out by the police. Such a negative layabout really should get a job to support his family. You claim injury but yet you are able to sit behind your desk all day. Surely with all your education and having had dinner with senators you would be able to get some sort of job. The bigger question will it pay bigger than your welfare or disability check. Please be quiet.

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