LWVN Letter to the TAB about Metco

March 4, 2015

To the Editor:

Joshua Norman wrote in a recent opinion piece about Newton’s high cost of educating out-of-district students that it is “wrong to keep forcing Newton taxpayers to pay to educate these children”. We disagree. The cost to Newton taxpayers for continuing to educate out-of-district students must be viewed in the context of the benefits to Newton’s children and to our entire community.

The vast majority of Newton’s out-of-district students participate in METCO, arguably our school system’s best tool for counteracting pervasive prejudices and misunderstandings about race that continue to plague our society 150 years after the abolition of slavery. Our participation in the METCO program shows Newton children from a young age that it is important to our community to learn, work and play with people of all races.

METCO has, for decades, been providing opportunities for children in suburban Newton, which is not racially diverse, to learn alongside–and create lifelong bonds with– inner city children, especially African American children.

METCO enjoys broad support from Newton’s citizens because of our community’s strong commitment to equality and diversity, especially the goal of racial diversity in our schools. In addition, parents and educators understand that diversity in the classroom promotes critical thinking and enhances problem solving skills.

The League of Women Voters of Newton, along with the League of Women Voters of Massachusetts and local Leagues in other communities in the Boston area, have supported METCO from its inception and support it today. Newton’s continued funding of this proven program is money well spent.

Bonnie Carter

For the Steering Committee

Newton Stop on MA Senate “Commonwealth Conversations” Tour

The public is invited to join State Senator Cynthia Stone Creem (D-Newton) and other Senators next Monday, March 2nd, from 7:00-8:30pm at the Newton North High School cafeteria (located at 457 Walnut Street) for the latest stop on the MA Senate’s “Commonwealth Conversations” Tour.  Members of the public are invited to speak on an issue by signing up, and comments are limited to two minutes to give as many people as possible an opportunity to participate.

Senate President Stan Rosenberg (D- Amherst) and Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr (R- Gloucester) have tasked all Senate members with assembling regional days to highlight and showcase their districts and to bring the State House to local communities. They, along with Senator Creem and Metro-West colleagues (Senators Richard Ross, Michael Barrett, Eileen Donoghue, James Eldridge, and Karen Spilka) will be attending a full day of events with business and community leaders from Plainville to Lowell, ending with this public forum in Newton.

These tours allow Senators to hear directly from the public, learn more about the issues of other districts and better understand the needs of the Commonwealth.  Every Senator is also attending events in other districts.

LWVMA Urges Action on Transportation

Recent MBTA shutdowns in the face of severe weather are vivid reminders of the costs of postponing maintenance and investment in essential infrastructure.  LWVMA has for years advocated for adequate transportation funding and we adopted a new position supporting transportation at our 2013 Convention.

Unfortunately, the state has not kept up with predictable deterioration of trains, buses, tracks, roads and bridges, and has not improved service to keep up with demand.  These transportation failures harm our personal budgets and the state’s economy.

LWVMA has joined a statewide coalition, Transportation for Massachusetts or T4MA, that tracks transportation needs, policies and investments. It’s clear from T4MA’s latest study that we need billions of dollars of revenue to bring transportation to a state of good repair and for new service to encourage responsible growth. We must make smart reforms.

LWVMA’s transportation committee urges local Leagues and members to contact your legislators directly and to write to your local newspaper asking the legislature to close the transportation funding gap, support overdue MBTA maintenance and adequate Regional Transit Authority funding, and repair roads and bridges.  You can find more information at T4MA’s website.

Forum on Criminal Justice Reform: Opportunities For Legislative Action

On Thursday, February 26 at 7:30PM, a forum on Criminal Justice Reform: Opportunities for Legislation Action will take place at Acton Town Hall, 472 Main Street, Room 204.  The event is sponsored by the League of Women Voters – Acton Area.  It is open to the public and free of charge.

Sen. James Eldridge will provide an overview of several relevant bills currently under consideration in Massachusetts.  Erin Freeborn, Executive Director of Communities for Restorative Justice (C4RJ), will speak and show “Finding Courage,” C4RJ’s video about their work.  In addition, an individual will share a personal account of experiencing restorative justice.  Time for Q and A will follow presentations. For additional information:  mgeken@comcast.net

LWVN Meeting on Austin Street Project

On January 14th, LWVN welcomed Scott Oran to present the current proposal for the Austin Street parcel (currently where the parking lot is now.)  Click on the link for notes on the Q & A session after the presentation.  There were still many unanswered questions (listed at the end of the notes) which have been submitted to the Austin Street Partners.  As soon as we had answers, we will post them.

Special thanks to the West Suburban YMCA for the use of their meeting space for the event.

January Topic Meeting-Austin Street

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