“The Case for Investing in our Children” by Dan Rourke & Robert Gignac

Dan Rourke, a candidate for Lowell City Council, and Robert Gignac, a Lowell School Committee member who seeks re-election this year, wrote and shared the following Op-Ed. (I’m happy to post content written by any candidate; just email it to DickHoweJr@gmail.com).

Education is the cornerstone of our community. Now that we live in a global society and our children will be competing for jobs with people all over the world, it is critically important that we not only provide first class education for our children, it’s imperative that we create additional opportunities beyond the normal school hours to ensure their success as it will lead to the future prosperity of the City of Lowell and our country.

After school programming is an integral part that will afford our children success. Currently there are five programs being run throughout our city. Our goal is to work collaboratively with parents, educational leaders and our entire community to make this pilot program city wide. With everyone working together we will be able to further design a program that will enrich our students academically, culturally and socially. Once this program is in place, we believe it will boost our children’s confidence and self-esteem and as a result will direct our children towards greater personal and academic success.

This programming comes at a crucial time. Everyday our children are facing more and more significant amounts of pressure from all areas of life. We believe it is important that they are given the additional tools to counter any and all negative influences that society sends their way.

This cost money and we are both very cognizant of the financial concerns that many people may have with this plan. Realizing these concerns, we feel it would not be the correct course of action to ignore what our children’s needs are. Collaboratively, we will work out a financing solution together.

We can only expect our residents to invest in education if we provide the leadership for that investment and can show results. We will strive for excellence by reviewing our success and failures of the program so we can change it as needed. Performance measures will be incorporated to ensure what is working and what is not and we will hold ourselves accountable to make it a success.

We will continue to explore the possibility of financing portions of this after school programming through a multi-pronged approach. Our first order of business in January will be to have a portion of our growth dedicated to this program. This financing technique will ensure that the program will be affordable and viable. We stand committed to increasing collaboration between the city council, school committee and our state and federal partners. We both know the City of Lowell has long prided itself on developing public/private partnerships and we will take an active role in pursuing these partnerships.

We will meet and work with our state and federal partners to identify any potential funding opportunities that could be made available and that will assist us in our long term goal of stability. We both stand committed to be the driving force in creating that public private partnership.

The success of our children is not just the responsibility of parents, teachers, school administrators or the school committee. It is the responsibility of the whole community.