Friday, September 24, 1999
Regionalizing the Middle School?
I applaud the Carlisle School Committee for taking a dim view of regionalizing Carlisle's Middle School (sixth though eighth) with that of Concord's, as reported in last week's Mosquito. This idea was raised at a recent regional school committee meeting in Concord by the new Concord School Superintendent Ed Mavragis. Concord has two middle schools Sanborn and Peabodywith a population of 650 students. A Concord school master plan is proposing one combined middle school in the future. Carlisle at present has 252 middle school students. Using these numbers, if there were to be a regional Concord-Carlisle middle school right now, it would have 902 students.
It is understandable that Concord is looking for an acceptable fiscal solution to its need for school renovation and reconstruction, especially after last spring's defeat of an operating budget override for the Concord schools. But in this post-Columbine era, educators are realizing the value of smaller neighborhood schools where students are treated as individuals, where teachers and students can easily interact with one another, and a student does not become just a number in a large school system.
Carlisle has an excellent K-8 school and it is a major reason families want to move here. Older students gain from their contact with lower-grade students when they act as mentors in the classroom. Both the younger and older students benefit from the interaction that takes place.
A real community spirit develops as a student moves through the Carlisle Schoolspaghetti suppers, outdoor education, the seventh-grade play, the school band and all its activities, after-school sports and the other programs.
Parents complain now about all the driving they must do, picking up children from sports and other after-school activities. Imagine the increased amount of driving parents would have to do if Carlisle middle school students were going to school in Concord. If there was ever any hope that Carlisle students might walk to and from school on pedestrian pathways, regionalization would put an end to that.
Yes, there will always be fiscal concerns, but Carlisle likes its K-8 school. Regionalization of the middle school would create far more problems than it might solve and should be politely but firmly rejected.
The tragic death of John F. Kennedy, Jr. this summer caused a national trauma. All other U.S. and world events were pushed to the back pages of the newspapers and virtually off the TV newscasts. The entire U.S. Navy seemed to be called out for the search and rescue operations. The nation hung on any bit of news concerning the rescue efforts, the recovery of his plane and the eventual funeral at sea. Why did people and the press react this way? He was simply a magazine publisher. Neither he nor his wife had earned any claim to national fame.
I believe the public reaction reflects monarchist sympathies in this country. Many Americans identified with John-John and the whole Kennedy family. He really was considered a prince, and an heir to the so-called Kennedy legacy (whatever that is). People remember John-John as a little boy. They followed his exploits as a teenager and young adult, and knew all his girlfriends. He became a part of their lives. He represented something much more than George magazine. Royalty has this same kind of appeal. The monarch and his or her family are a personification of the nation.
The public's response to John F. Kennedy, Jr.'s death was not too different than its response to the death of Princess Diana, the so-called "people's princess." She was beautiful, and certainly a good person, but was there a need for such hysteria upon her death? After all, she did not die fighting for her country or passing out soup in a British slum. She died in an auto accident, like millions of other people do each year. But she was royalty.
When asked their opinion of a monarchist form of government, most Americans would probably respond that it really doesn't fit the American culture. I believe, however, that there is a real fondness for monarchy in this country. The press certainly reflects this view, which manifests itself in many ways. For example, Americans seem to be obsessed with the "first family." There is the "first lady," the "first daughter" and the "first dog." I have even seen a reference to the "first mistress." Where does all this obsession come from? There is no mention of a "first family" in the Constitution or in any of the country's laws. They are simply the family of the person who happens to be the president of the United States.
If you substitute the word "royal" for "first," it begins to make sense. I believe it is a manifestation of the nation's desire for a royal family type government. People like the idea of the state represented by a family. Perhaps it makes them feel closer to the government.
Monarchies have existed for a long time in certain countries. Some might wonder why. I believe they satisfy a need to have people, rather than symbols, represent the nation. Although America is not a monarchy, the press has sensed this public need and has created our own royal princes and princesses.
© 1999 The Carlisle Mosquito