LETTERS: Candidates Write In About Campaign and Non-Election Items


(Watertown News will accept Town Election related letters until Oct. 31.)

Dear Watertown,

I ask for your vote for School Committee on November 3, 2015. I am a firm believer in public education—it is the mechanism societies use to prepare children to flourish in a modern world. Public schools are one of the best possible economic investments a community can make. Everyone benefits by investing in schools because communities with excellent schools are safer, better connected, attract more economic development, and have higher property values than communities with weak schools.

Schools have a massive challenge: With only 180 school days per year, educators must prepare thousands of students–of different abilities, languages, and socioeconomic status–for a future that is hard to imagine.

To move Watertown Public Schools (WPS) to excellence, we need our School Committee to function on par with our challenges and opportunities. Professionally, I lead public policy projects globally, helping policy makers make data-driven decisions and use limited resources effectively. I will use my professional skills and experiences to help build a system where every WPS student receives an excellent education. I will work closely with the School Committee and administration to champion our students and teachers. I will also be a strong steward of our public system. Our tax dollars must yield strong schools, happy prepared students and satisfied teachers, administrators and staff. WPS is a ~$45 million per year education system, serving ~2700 students with a 500+ person staff. Be assured, the candidate you elect matters to the future of WPS.

Watertown is a wonderful place. Our town is a vibrant hub of cultural diversity, located in a preeminent region for science, technology, and the arts. Still, we must recognize that many students will work and live beyond our 4.2 square miles. Our students will compete for satisfying, good-paying jobs with students across the state, country and world. It is our generational obligation to adequately prepare our children so they can be competitive in an exciting and challenging employment landscape and live productively in a complex world and global economy.

As a School Committee member, I will ask questions, set high expectations and find solutions to persistent problems by studying other districts and advocating for approaches that match our students’ needs. The status quo is no longer acceptable: Our Curriculum Sub-Committee has not met in years, despite significant curriculum investments, the move from MCAS to PARCC, and the growing need for public understanding of curriculum choices—Sub-Committee meetings are important as these are where parents and other interested town members can participate. Our Buildings and Grounds Sub-Committee met once in 2015, even though our overfull buildings have significant problems and we have plans for a new high school. Our School Committee–regardless of who is elected–needs to rise to meet WPS’s challenges and opportunities.

According to the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, school systems are successful when “… All parties involved in local school governance–school committees, superintendents, principals, and school councils–communicate and work collaboratively with each other and with the wider community to achieve the common goal of improving educational opportunities and outcomes for students.” I want to do this work for WPS as your elected official.

I think about how Coach Donahue led our girls’ hockey team to an incredible achievement, a record- setting 154 wins. Coach Donahue knows there are no shortcuts to excellence. She sets high expectations, never skips practice, establishes a strong team, and communicates to her players. It is time that our School Committee adopts the habits of excellence so that our students can excel academically as well as athletically. Together, let’s build a district where kids can’t wait to get to school each morning and are prepared for life-long success. Visit http://www.candace4WPS.com to learn more. Please vote on 11/3/15.

Candace Miller
Westminster Ave


Candidate Finds Library-Related Inquiry Far From Home

Talking off a few days from my Library Trustee campaign to go to my cousin’s 70th birthday in New Mexico, I didn’t suspect a Watertown history or Library connection.

My cousin, Richard Gale Ballantine, was Born in San Francisco and has lived for over 65 years in Durango, Colo. As we were leaving, Richard said he thought he might have an ancestor, Richard Gale, who had migrated to Watertown from England at the time of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Could I do a little digging for him?

A librarian in the Watertown Library History Room, without breaking a sweat, turned up Richard Gale in 1640 and his 6 acres of Watertown land and a bonus discovery: Richard Gale was married that year by the nearest magistrate, John Winthrop, the son of John Winthrop, the colony’s first Governor. After the campaign I’ll be going back for more: how did Richard’s family get to San Francisco?

Shep Ferguson
Candidate for Library Trustee

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *