NOTE: This blog post was provided by concerned Amherst citizens who wish to remain anonymous)
As we lead up to election day, there is understandably a lot of discussion about where to begin to fix the issues before us regarding the Amherst School District. Many taxpayers are asking how did we get here? We all agree, the answer to that is very complex and nuanced.
From the maintenance and capacity of our facilities to the deficiency in student preparedness and performance, I think the one thing we can all agree on is we need a change.
With that in mind, on March 14th, let’s vote for a fresh approach and for candidates who will work to bring the community together to tackle these issues.
Fortunately for Amherst, we have some great citizens who have stepped up as candidates for Amherst School Board and Amherst School District Moderator. They all bring depth of knowledge, relevant experience and substantial background along with fresh ideas and the willingness to commit to the job ahead of them.
Greg Fitz For Amherst School Board
‘Muzi’ Husainy for Amherst School Board
Seventeen years ago, in Fall of 2005, my family moved to Amherst, allured by the charm and promise of this quintessential small New England community with a stellar reputation of its K-12 schools. Claudine and I were excited for Sofia and Siraj, then six and four respectively, to begin their educational journey in this acclaimed school system. We had looked at the curriculum of the schools from an educator’s perspective and were very impressed with the content of the curriculum and overall student proficiencies at that time. The results were no less than Lexington, Winchester or Brookline schools in Massachusetts. We were happy until 2010-11 when Sofia started middle school, and the constant experimentation with curriculum, tests, teaching methods and modality began. The volatility continues today notwithstanding the disruption due to the pandemic.
We are witnessing a decay in student proficiency (Math, English Language & Arts, and Science) which seems to have been on a steady decline since 2017 with a 18% difference In language arts, and a 11% difference in mathematics between the class of 2017 and the current graduating class
of 2023; we have seen reduction or cancellation of elective programs such as foreign languages, we have witnessed dilution of academic standards, multiple changes in students grading, and fiscal mismanagement. We have noticed a propensity to discourage creativity, dilute curriculum, and to forego helping high-achieving students to advance further. We also experienced that School Board Members were not willing to listen and minimized parents’ concerns towards student proficiency and retainment of knowledge. We have seen the Superintendent’s Office become authoritarian and highly defensive and sometimes unduly patronizing. We have not seen the educational philosophy, aspirations, goals or any roadmap to correct the course.
All of these issues point to a culture of poor governance and oversight by the school boards. Their lack of transparency erodes the trust between the community and the school municipalities. In the face of ever-increasing costs and falling standards, one wonders what value the community is receiving for its financial generosity?
I am passionate about public schools providing the best educational foundation to the children of the community it serves and maximizing the return on investment. If given the opportunity, I would like to help the School Board drive towards regaining the community’s trust and confidence and educational excellence at a fair cost. I have worked as Director of Finance and Budget at Clark University, Associate Executive Director of Finance, Admin and IT for Corporate Education Center of Boston University, and the last 18 years as a Global Delivery Manager and Solutions Architect at Dell Technology Services implementing multi-year complex IT Projects serving Fortune-100 enterprises. Problem solving and consensus building come naturally to me. Data-driven, well-informed decisions with an eye on the end goal always wins the day. Partisanship should have no place in building and delivering a strong educational foundation for our students to prepare them well for successful lives. I hope to offer more details on my position on specific issues in the near future. Thank you.
Mozammel “Muzi” Husainy
Mark Vincent for Moderator
To watch the candidates provide their positions and answer questions, click on the red/green button above.
***Please focus your attention on the statements of Greg, Muzi and Mark Vincent. You will notice a big difference in their statements, answers and perspectives, and they are exactly what is needed to address our school issues. Common Sense!
Thank you Amherst for listening! These citizens truly care about our kids.