I just wanted to draw my blog readers' attention to two new pieces that have covered my decision to not seek re-election.
First, you can now watch my interview on Amherst Media, with Issac Ben Ezra, via streaming: http://18.104.22.168/Cablecast/Public/Show.aspx?ChannelID=1&ShowID=6941.
Second, an ARHS student, Aidan Chesworth, has written a piece for the Graphic on my decision, and I'm pasting (with his permission) his story below. I'd just like to add one thing to his story for clarity - my three kids are still in the public schools, and I have no specific plans right now to have my own kids leave the public schools for the upcoming year. However, I didn't, and I don't, feel like I can make a commitment to keeping all of my kids in the public schools for the next three years, which is why I didn't feel it was appropriate for me to seek re-election.
February 26th 2011
Catherine Sanderson, a professor at Amherst Collage and three-year member of the Amherst school committee, announced recently that she would not run for school committee reelection. She is known throughout the community by supporters and critics alike for her progressive and reformist attitudes, as well as her popular school committee blog. The main reason for her decision was what she deemed her “loss of faith” in public schools.
Sanderson has received flak from anonymous commenters on her blog for her decision to pull her own children out of public schools. “I didn’t feel comfortable making decisions about the school and not having them affect my kids,” Sanderson said.
Her moral issues with staying on the school committee with children in alternate schooling did not run concurrent with the thoughts of other school administrators. While she wouldn’t mention specific names, Sanderson said that several school committee members had sent their children to private schools. Even ARHS principal Mark Jackson doesn’t send his child to public school. “It’s like if I walked into Chili’s for dinner, and saw the manager in the back eating Applebee’s food. I would think ‘why isn’t he eating here? Maybe I shouldn’t either,’” Sanderson said.
Sanderson said that her time as school committee member has caused her to become “more depressed” about public schooling. She fears the development of a two-tiered education system in America, where every family that can afford it sends their children to private school and public schools are exclusively for children from low-income households. This fear’s growth was facilitated by Amherst’s strong resistance to change, which Sanderson said she “didn’t understand the depth of” when she first ran for school committee.
Despite all of this, Sanderson said she was glad she served on the school committee. “Good things happened,” she said, and she was satisfied with many of the changes she helped realize. “If I ever felt the same passion and energy I felt in 2008 [in a different community], I would consider running again,” she said.
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.