The School Committee’s 4-3 vote against posting the superintendent’s position was a close call for Catherine Latham. She dodged a bullet when the school committee decided she should stay on rather than to advertise the position and look for someone else.
Those of us who listened to the three hours of testimony and debate about the issue were impressed with the passion that was brought before the school committee by residents who deeply care about the education their children are receiving from the Lynn school system.
Also impressive were the testimonials given by Superintendent Latham’s colleagues, some of whom are her closest supporters.
Those testimonials and especially one given by Lynn English High School Principal Thomas Strangie, were professional, to the point but more importantly, from the heart. After all, that’s what really counts when all is said and done.
Strangie’s words for his superintendent evoked a wide round of applause when he was finished and justifiably so.
The bulk of the comments made by all those who testified pointed to the fact that Superintendent Latham is deeply involved in what she is doing. If everything in the school system is not perfect, we came away from such talk with the understanding that she gives her job her all.
Especially notable is that this is a woman who works late, who is in early, who fully participates during weekends and who has a good idea about what she is doing.
Complaints directed toward her should have been directed toward the city’s plight – that is – having too many old schools that are inefficient and in some cases decrepit.
The complaints should have been directed at a very large and difficult to manage student body made up of thousands of students who come from broken homes where English is a second language.
There is no antidote for plugging the gaps that come to exist when so many students given so much time and attention by dedicated staff leave the school system and move somewhere else. Transiency is a big problem.
It is not the superintendent’s fault that the school system needs millions more in funds than it has. Running the schools isn’t all about money but try to run them without enough of it.
Principal Strangie hit the proverbial nail on the head when he noted that for the most part, only a relatively few parents who are feeling hard done by come out to complain about the school system and the superintendent. He said the vast majority of parents feel comfortable about what is going on in the Lynn Public Schools.
He is absolutely right.
The School Board’s vote against posting the superintendent’s position was, in this instance, a profile in courage.
The superintendent’s reputation, indeed, even her job, should not rely on the negative feelings about her of a relative few when the huge majority supports her good work.
We may not agree with some of the superintendent’s policies but we agree that she works hard, has the support of important colleagues as well as that of a vast majority of parents of school children in this city.
She should be left to do her work.