My Goal in Blogging

I started this blog in May of 2008, shortly after my election to the School Committee, because I believed it was very important to both provide the community with an opportunity to share their thoughts with me about our schools and to provide me with an opportunity for me to ask questions and share my thoughts and reasoning. I have found the conversation generated on my blog to be extremely helpful to me in learning community views on many issues. I appreciate the many people who have taken the time to share their views. I believe it is critical to the quality of our public schools to have a public discussion of our community priorities, concerns and aspirations.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Tell Me What YOU Think on

To try to gage the broad sentiment of the community, I've posted a link about the Union 26 issue on the website. This is a new website that is genuinely trying to tap into community feelings about political issues in towns in an objective way (e.g., it is "agenda-free"). I've provided objective information about Union 26 on this website, and I want to now hear what YOU think. Please go to: to register your vote (you will have to sign in and use your name), and please send this information to your friends/neighbors/colleagues. It best serves the School Committee IF we hear from many voices -- not just a few -- so I really hope the community will weigh in on localocracy on this very important issue. Thanks!

One correction: apparently you can vote anonymously on this site -- that is an option. But you have to be an Amherst resident to log in to register a vote.


annfmcl said...

Hi Catherine,

The link is not working. Here's my attempt at the correct link:

Ann McLaughlin

Catherine A. Sanderson said...

Thanks, Ann! I just fixed it!

annfmcl said...

Also, I think it's hard to know if one should support or oppose your question because of the way you have phrased it. I just noticed that I wrote a note in opposition and Joel Wolfe wrote one in support, although we both said essentially the same thing!

Catherine A. Sanderson said...

Ann - thanks for posting your responses on localocracy, AND for telling me to clean up the question, which I've now done! Really helpful.

Ed said...

For the record, I never have (and never will) sign into '' -- at least there were limits on what George Bush (and Obama) can do with my personal information -- there is *no* limit on private individuals/companies and/or those who later buy them can do with it.

Even though my writing style identifies me, even though I am personally known to some, even though others are already making my life miserable because of what I write, it would essentially be career suicide for me to permit any of my heretical beliefs to be firmly tied to me.

Remember too that the Federalist Papers were published anonymously although we know who wrote each....

Conor White-Sullivan said...


I completely respect and understand your concern. You are not alone. Many people today feel that expressing their political views publicly will put them at risk, and for far too many that risk is real.

Expressing a controversial view can do a lot of damage to a persons reputation, to their social life, and potentially to their carreer--especially if they are in the public sector.

I personally think this is a travesty in a society that claims to value diversity and freedom of thought, but it is a reality we have to deal with.

At the same time though, it has always seemed to me that there is no chance of any action being taken politically until there is at least one person who is able to stand up and say they believe in something.

Come election time, it is also true that we sometimes find there was a "silent majority" who supported that person.

In designing Localocracy, our main goal has been to create a place where public policy can actually be influenced by the people who are affected by it, and we are doing our best to deal with both the real need for anonymity, and the real need for accountability.

If you never create a Localocracy account, I fully understand, but we have tried to do one thing to make it easier for you and all the others whose views might be controversial.

On Localocracy, you can vote anonymously, and you can rank up the reasons that others (who have put down their real names) have posted to that side. I know it isn't perfect but our hope is that the ability to "ditto" someone else's comment can help those who feel silenced socially to be heard--and not just on election day.

In terms of privacy, I also understand your concerns--even if google and facebook don't. Our privacy policy is here

Please let me know specifically if there are any points in the policy that concern you, there is nothing we take more seriously than privacy, if I can't give you an answer I will talk the question through with our attorney and get back to you.

Thanks very much,

and thank you Catherine for being this open with your constituents,

Conor White-Sullivan

Anonymous said...

It's obvious we shouldn't be involved anymore in the union 26 agreement. It's amazing that some people on the school committee are taking the heat over this. It doesn't benefit Amherst at all, and it's taking our much needed tax dollars and subsidizing the other towns.

Joel said...

I was able to correct my vote. I was tired and was easily confused at that moment.

Catherine A. Sanderson said...

My responses:

Ed - I hope you'll consider registering with localocracy and perhaps voting (or ranking others' votes) anonymously? I do think the community benefits when ALL voices are heard, and that is hard to happen when some people (and I know there are many) feel they can't speak openly without fear of consequences.

Conor - thanks for your contribution, and I hope that my blog readers (and many others) will share their thoughts on crucial Amherst issues (especially those on education) on localocracy!

Ali - that is certainly what I'm hearing from many Amherst residents. It is just very hard to see the benefits of this union for Amherst, and although change is always hard (e.g., closing Marks Meadow, redistricting), sometimes the right thing to do is hard.

Joel - no problem. Thanks for adding your voice with your name on localocracy!

Anonymous said...

Re Kip at the school committee meeting 9/28. There is a STRONG constituency in Amherst that wants to disolve Union 26. And how dare you come to our school committee meeting with your condescending tone and try to manipulate the meeting.