August 18, 2018

The Real “Civic Literary” Our Town Needs

Concerned Parents of Wellesley productive and valuable, not hindering
Christina de Fontnouvelle ’12

On the weekend of December 3, Wellesley parent Paul Baier launched a Facebook page entitled “ConcernedParentsofWellesley,” with the aim of raising awareness of school issues, such as safety, health, and administrative efficiency, and to catalyze action among parents.

Since then, the group has drawn attention from multiple media venues, held a meeting with the school committee, and sent out several mass emails to parents informing them of the group’s concerns and goals and to encourage them to attend school committee meetings and to actively voice their comments, opinions, and suggestions.

I believe that the group exemplifies the kind of citizen involvement and investment in infrastructure that should be characteristic of a healthy town community.

It is true, as some Wellesley residents grudgingly note, that the group is another thing for the already-overwhelmed school committee to deal with. Some even worry that the group will frighten away potential superintendent candidates by indicating that this town’s parent base will be too much of a hassle to deal with.

However, I would argue that a potential superintendent who decided not to run because of this group would not be a worthy candidate anyway – someone running for public office, especially the office of heading the school system, should welcome and appreciate input from citizens. In addition to being valuable in and of itself as a first-hand perspective on the successes and issues of the school system, the group shows that Wellesley has a concerned and invested citizen base that really cares about its town. And as for any potential hassle, as ConcernedParentsofWellesley embodies the concerns of the parents and children whom the school system serves, communicating with the group should be near the top of the school committee’s to-do list.

As part of their junior year US History curriculum, students have to involve themselves in at least four aspects of municipal government, a task known as “civic literacy.” The goal of this assignment is to promote student involvement and investment in their town. If we encourage active citizenship in students, why discourage it in parents? ConcernedParentsofWellesley is a group of citizens who care about their town and the future of their schools, and are actually doing something about it.

After all, democracy is a system rooted in the continued involvement and investment of citizens. As group member Alissa Keene notes, “are there problems? Yes. Are they fixable? Yes. Are there steps being taken to fix them? Yes.” The group, embodying citizen investment and concern, is in itself one of those important steps.

Therefore, let us embrace ConcernedParentsofWellesley and the comments and suggestions it offers about our public education system, and let us use its input to improve our schools.

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