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Real Issues Please, Enough with the Fluff

With all of the real problems facing Melrose (not just schools), the well-meaning community/parents who are in an uproar would do well to consider the post (below) from earlier this week. They are already demonstrating battle fatigue in their short-lived outrage, especially with April school vacation now taking their focus (and will likely dissipate some of the furor next week).

Margaret and her Tone Police are bound to begin cracking down the gavel since the "negativity" is only allowed if it's coming from her, Cyndy or Rob (Patrick), in which case they can rant all they want and we are required to shut up and listen. They are determined to frame this and all issues the way they and their PR Firm (Guilfoil) decide Melrose is going to be required to hear/see them. It's a good bet that the free-for-all that threatened last Tuesday's meeting will not be allowed in future meetings because they have their fake budget "process" to play out, after all, where again, there will be no improvising or real listening/dialogue. People will be told they can email the SC or BOA with their concerns (translation: the SC/BOA will screen and discard anything they want shuttered and only bring forward the versions of anything that Rob/Margaret/Cyndy agree will be presented). Anything else, including Public Comment, will be severely limited. They may even remove it altogether (as they have done now with a bunch of their meetings and "forums." This may seem cynical to the idealistic new parents in the district, but it's the reality, no matter how many of these nice people end up feeling temporarily great about Cyndy's grand "interim" gestures or Rob's appointments to various working groups and commissions. Those feeling aglow with their new-found social status need to understand they are just tools for Rob/MEF/Margaret/Cyndy. They can make it real and demonstrate mature social action, but that will take a long view and requires more than what typically emerges from the 48-hour outrage Melrose is known for.

If Melrose community identity is so fragile that eliminating Red or feathers for a racially/culturally neutral emblem unleashes so much vitriol, what does that say about the maturity of those leading the charge, on both sides? Traditions in most cultures evolve, as any college freshmen learns in Sociology 101 or anyone who has read much of anything beyond the sports page should understand. Few things heralded as "tradition" are static and forever unchanging. Look at the history of the Star-Spangled Banner. The emotions are running strong right now (partly being "trumped up" by the awful national campaigns). A mature and inclusive community process could lead to a nice emblem around which most could come together. More imperious actions (covered by slick PR pieces like what Guilfoil/Dolan put out this week) are what's likely, so a cycle of heated reactions are also all that should be expected for the present.

Meanwhile, students and teachers continue to live within the most hostile and damaging environment the Melrose school district has likely ever known, and the community instead is focused on feathers. Do any of these well-meaning new parent activists actually care that a real student was told to "go back to the plantation" and that history lesson, as it were, is what at least 60 students have taken with them onto their MHS experience? Does anyone care that there were 2 incidents reported 2 weeks ago where teachers were allegedly physical and inappropriate with 2 students of color, or students at both MHS and MVMMS were engaged/enraged in racially heated exchanges on social media? Does anyone yet care that a beloved art teacher was fired last June for refusing to obey the Fine/Performing Arts Chair when told to "separate the students of color", and this teacher (a single mother of 2 young children) sacrificed her job for actual principles of integrity and social justice...or are the feathers the only thing that parents will rally around?

The community continues to get soaked by an extortionist city government via water/sewer and tax schemes, while citizens rage over Viking versus WWII symbols. The dark forces behind MEF continue to organize the next divisive ballot initiative (and whining their Sour Grapes rants everywhere about their catastrophic loss last November, as Rob and Patrick persist in) while residents fret over the color of their kids' overpriced sweatshirts. Oh, and by the way, Melrose High still doesn't even have its own Alumni Association, which could be the rallying force for a happy cultural emblem AND a whole lot of alumni dollars that the community has allowed to be sent elsewhere instead of doing what most communities have long been able to accomplish via their alumni associations. Let's stop being pathetic and start doing these things! Fluffernutters might not be such a bad mascot after all!


Featherbrained Parents
Apr 15, 2016 - 9:32AM
Re: Tackle Taymore

The featherbrained young parents now in a snit mean well but don't see the forest for the trees. The bunch from Tuesday night probably think they are "fighting" for Democracy itself, with their kumbaya quotes. Good on them for taking the time and hiring baby-sitters to come, and finding the courage to speak. There have been so many others before, who have tried and then eventually faded away with battle fatigue and fear of retaliation, clinging to that shopworn thing that they have to stay "positive" and "collaborative" and not venture near the third rail of "negativity." Where have they been all these months/years when the heinous civil rights violations of all sorts (including the enormously costly SPED violations) have been occurring right under their noses, or all the other multitudes of serious "negative" (dysfunction and wrong-doing) that are pretty easily observable? Answer: they have been living the dream, working hard, loving their children, assuming that the schools and community were as glorious as their realtors and the mayor was telling them all along, from before they even bought their over-priced homes and enlisted in Birth to Five or the ECC, etc. They were having babies and trying to be the best parents and people they could be, earnestly trying to keep faith that they really are living in a "wonderful" community where they can feel confident of the community values their children will be raised within. They are continuing in that vein, just a little the worse for wear now that they know that maybe the blush is somewhat off the Rose, having read about that pesky OCR business and now this outrage about "tommyhawks" and feathers. They are smart enough to see that some of these administrators are not too swift, but they buy into the jargon and don't look too closely. Most have never bothered to investigate beyond what they hear from their neighbors or friends at yoga.

The PR Machine is still managing to keep hold of these well-meaning but naive parents, feeding them just enough to let them think they are having an effect and that they can feel proud being part of a "positive" process. They don't realize how they have been co-opted and are being used. They don't realize that they are only being given just enough information to make them Believe.

They are worried about Kindergarten (again and always with this ever-renewing crew), and ECC/After-school fees, etc. They are being hammered with The Message: Dire Budget Crisis, as Dellarusso and Dolan once again ranted Tuesday night for the cameras (since most of the parents had already gone back home to their babies). These parents don't remember just a few months back that there was a $3.5 million-dollar SURPLUS (now hiding in all the various slush funds, Enterprise Funds, "safety reserves," and all the other euphemisms). They are going to continue hearing The Message every time the mayor, SC, Martha or Lisa or Jen or superintendent open their mouths, at every PTO meeting. They will want to believe in the basic goodness of these people because that is how they want to raise their children.

Some sort of incompetent version of a budget will be approved soon, hacked together by those cooking it all to continue The Message. There will be many Dire Warnings about pink slips and crowded classrooms and "contract negotiations" and on and on (remember just a few weeks back when the same ones said "there is no crisis?" One way or another the school year will draw to a close (with all the lawsuits, grievances, OCR complaints brewing and accelerating silently in the background, while the incompetent legal "team" continues to wrack up hefty fees, administrators take more junkets for their "conferences" with 4-star hotels...). The 5th-grade "graduation" excesses will take place. The proms and grad parties will take the front pages of the papers (hopefully with flowers for the dresses and not funerals for fallen inebriated students). Vuvu and ClownP will yammer away about the infinite superiority of MHS grads. And shortly after the budget brouhaha dies down, everyone will have departed for their cabins and beaches and won't notice the exodus of staff or 9th-grade students or the "pot of money" set aside for administrative raises that will get quietly voted unanimously sometime in June or July. There will be some executive sessions to approve some contract extensions of principals and others who keep getting rejected when they apply for jobs elsewhere.

The kerfluffle over feathers may or may not yield some interesting news pieces, but the battle fatigue for the new parents will quickly overtake them as it has for most of their predecessors who fought over other things that seemed terribly important at the time. The young parents haven't yet cottoned to the double-dealing that the administration is doing right under their noses, claiming to be working with them while at the same time laying down with the jock fanatics and loonies who care only about their precious sports identities. They didn't even seem to notice RD's sleight of hand in his ridiculous little speech Tuesday night about his time with the vets, as if that had anything whatsoever to do with whatever his "point of personal privilege" was referencing at the close of Public Participation. (He just wanted the young parents to think he was aligned with them without revealing that in fact he's totally aligned--or at least he was Tuesday--with the other side, a bit of a problem he will have going forward since these gullible parents are his electoral bread and butter. He may just have to flip and go with the Marshmallow Logo in the end, though he doesn't want to risk alienating his core support, which in this case is divided. But he'll just raise his finger and see which wind is blowing stronger, and go with that, cajoling and/or bullying the rest after he's tackled to the other side.)

Cynical much, yes. It could be different. It could get real. But that would take more than the superficial views and a real will to get to the bottom of all that's wrong. That takes backbone, too. Not sure many have the will or the strength or even the willingness to understand and pursue beneath the superficial.[:)s][:)s][:)s]

Re: Real Issues Please, Enough with the Fluff

Craziest Yet: SC re Taymore Award
School Committee meeting last night: @ 2:45:00

Those young parents who think they have the backing of CT, MD, RD, or any of the SC for anything that matters whatsoever need to watch this. Spin is literally all the officials care about. They may be "allowed" to speak or join one of the little private tete-a-tetes that CT or RD et all sanction temporarily (to get parents/community members off their backs), but it's all a show. They have not one sincere bone in their collective bodies (SC & BOA) to make the changes necessary to demonstrate that they actually do understand their fiscal and oversight duties. Their default setting is Spin, Marginalize where needed, Pretend, more Spin, lather/rinse/repeat.

Re: Real Issues Please, Enough with the Fluff

I agree with the previous poster. This school committee has totally ignored all the negative issues related to the actions of Ms. Taymore. During the SC recent performance evaluation - none of them, except of course Ms. CKK, mentioned anything about the OCR findings which was a terrible indictment of the senior school staff in the way they handled the investigation. This deliberate oversight should be enough to show all of the dishonest nature of this School Committee. Also nothing was mentioned in her previous evaluation about the city having its first designated level 3 school - which only recently been moved to a level 2. And of course nothing was mentioned in her current performance evaluation of being in violation of state law as to how they handle student suspensions and disciplinary actions.

How can anyone trust or have faith in this committee when they overlook major violations of state and OCR laws?

Shame on you Ms. Driscoll, Mayor Dolan, Ms. Casatelli, and Ms. Dugan.

Re: Real Issues Please, Enough with the Fluff

"To all of those well-meaning people that were protesting a dream-catcher" (from another string)...if you really want to make a difference and really want to rally against institutional racism, I suggest you educate yourself"

This is the biggest point. The "dream-catcher" activists (those advocating for a new logo/symbol) mean well for sure, but their ranks are filled with those who are so limited in their understanding about the bigger issues, and for the most part people who have been absent about much more serious examples of real, actual racist misconduct. They also include in their midst the Grover types who have proven via their public stands, municipal positions, etc. that they are all about politics and not about correcting systemic wrongs (let alone the ones they are directly implicated in). The other side seems even more unwilling to learn about the bigger issues (many even being hard-core proponents--like the Herald radio hack inciting hate speech--of very "-ist" systems), except that they do have a clue when it comes to the financial mismanagement and ethical corruption of those leading the city. Melrose doesn't have a hope of evolving into a more civilized community until both sides educate themselves better and find some balance in greater understanding of the underlying issues.

The fact that both sides include citizens of opposing political alliances (like those in the "Yes" campaign versus NO/Mel Taxpayer's Assoc, for instance) will make this interesting as it plays out, unless it just dies on the vine like so many other issues have in the past, after some superficial lame solution. It will be especially interesting to watch some of the Yes types going up against RD, who simply must align himself with the not-PC jock "True Melrosian" types. He knows he will have a constantly renewing batch of gullible young parents as long as he keeps the realtors happy and lying, so it's no big loss to him right now, with 3 years until his next election, if he alienates some of his Yes supporters--those paying attention to anything beyond his cooked press releases or public rants, that is.

If the well-meaning people on both sides do the sustained hard work of coming together over the real issues (which so far they haven't even really begun talking about), then Melrose can get better. By the way, sustained and meaningful action has to occur even over vacation and summer, something that Melrose parents (unlike those in other communities who keep it going even when it's inconvenient) have typically been too self-absorbed to be willing to do. Maybe that's because Melrose parents have generally been of a more well-heeled group that takes very seriously the idea of leisure and down time, where that isn't an affordable luxury for many elsewhere. So the city administration's cynical calculations have been very effective: do the dirtiest actions (administrative raises, contract extensions, etc.) when the do-gooders who might squawk are at the beach or DisneyWorld. If politics prevail instead of sustained and effective action, then the cynical view is all we'll have to look at until the next thing bubbles to the surface demanding some temporary action until that group peters out. There are people of real substance on both sides of the Red Raiders thing, so maybe there's a reason for hope.