“Meanderings” by Jim Peters

The latest from regular contributor Jim Peters:

One of my good friends told me the other day that he could not read my blogs sometimes because they were so full of history and notes on historical facts.  So, I promised him a new Meanderings.  Here it is.

     I have been extremely busy with school department issues recently, and I have to say that I am impressed with the new Superintendent’s mission statement.  He is an engineer, and he wants the system working like an engineer would like it to run.  There are many aspects of simplification that he is reviewing, and some of it still states that we have not come, in a curriculum sense, to any end of an issue involving the School Department.
     While doing the history of the Schools, I have been struck by how top-heavy our schools are today, and yesterday.  In the beginning of Lowell schools, there were up to four Assistant Principals per school.  Often-times they were women who gave up the idea of marriage to stay on as educators.  The  City Fathers did not want women to become pregnant.  This would  be difficult to explain in a schoolhouse that had K through 8 students.  They did not want to give the teachers the opportunity to do much in the way of showing stages of pregnancy.  If you could get pregnant, you might have to explain about it.
      Thus, a married teacher  was an impossibility and many resignations were forwarded by teachers before their wedding day.  It was the best way to teach nothing about pro-creation at the time.  That  fact shows how controlled the schools were during that period.
     Back to Meanderings,  it seems  to me that we spend an awfully lot of time and money on education.  When my father was Superintendent, the Administration in Central Administration consisted of three secretaries, three Administrators, and one clerk.  Now there are probably between fifty and seventy people working in that area.  I know the state has expectations, but the state has been interested in education since at least 1870, when it forwarded a request as the Massachusetts’ State Board of Education for curriculum issues.  The state pays roughly 80% of our educational dollars spent in Lowell’s effort to educate its scholars.
     Back to the meeting I attended.  We talked about the placement of the new High School, the bus issue in the city, the cost to the city of putting many more buses paid by Lowell enroute to the high school if students are not being educated in a centralized high school.
     We were told that the cost today of putting students on the bus back and forth to current schools is fifty seven million dollars.  And over one thousand students walk to school everyday.  No high school students take free bus rides.  They have to buy an LRTA  card.  Therefore, we are keeping costs for transportation of students down dramatically by having them take  city buses.
     One thing I gathered from the meeting was the fact that city buses carry thousands of students to and back from the high school.
     The biggest item that I learned was  that we have two zones in Lowell, and some students have access to one or the other, but not both.  There are people dedicated to getting students to and home from school everyday.  Feel free to call them if you have a question.
     If you have a loved one that needs a bus ride to school, and you meet the criteria, call the Central Offices and state your case to someone in adminstration that your student needs some help getting to school and back.  Utilize the legitimate rights that you have in Lowell’s educational system.
     Most of today’s meanderings are about transportation to and from school.  This may be a hot topic for you.  There are people to help you.  Call the Central Office.