Wellesley letter to the editor—re: Article 44 on academic excellence

This is an open letter urging residents to express their support for a YES vote on Article 44 at Annual Town Meeting, which begins this week.

A YES vote for Article 44 will ensure that academic excellence will be the number one priority in the Wellesley Public Schools (WPS).  Article 44 is not an either/or proposition: It does not advocate taking away from other programs in the WPS in order to prioritize academic excellence. Academic excellence is part of educating the whole child.

As you know, WPS’s rankings in the U.S. News and World Report (USN&WR) have declined significantly over the past seven years. A recent Boston Magazine article has noted this decline as well. Bruce Franco, the sponsor of Article 44 and the father of two school-aged daughters, has done in-depth research that validates the accuracy of the data used in the USN&WR rankings. His research proves that USN&WR’s methodology is statistically sound and that it accurately ranks schools by academic excellence.  Mr. Franco is to be commended for his efforts in developing Article 44 and advancing it to ATM. By his due diligence, Mr. Franco has done our Town a great service, and we need to listen to what he has to say. For further information, please see his presentation to the Select Board on youtube:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=koIqRRZEKus

Many parents have spoken out in favor of Article 44. School rankings affect us all, though, whether or not we have children in the WPS. I am not a parent, but as a tax-payer, I am concerned how declining WPS rankings will impact Wellesley property values. Our taxes are increasing significantly in the coming years in order to support the construction of two new elementary schools. While our property values may not decline precipitously, these will surely not rise commensurate with property values in neighboring communities with consistently higher school rankings. Article 44 will correct the downward trajectory in the WPS rankings to ensure that Wellesley remains a highly desirable community for families.

Lastly, I would like to comment on the Wellesley School Committee’s (WSC) resistance to Article 44. Article 44 is an important wake-up call for our community, and we need to pay attention. Article 44 presents an opportunity for parents and the WSC to work together as partners to ensure that academic excellence is the number one priority in the WPS—as it should be. Instead of digging in their heels and pushing back, the WSC might instead ask themselves what timely and positive steps they plan to take to (1) prioritize academic excellence, (2) improve WPS’s rankings, and (3) give parents a meaningful voice in the education of their children. Article 44 is that right step in the right direction at a critical point in time for our schools. Please express your support for a YES vote on Article 44.

Thank you for your consideration.

Donna Maria Ticchi
Thomas Road, Wellesley
Precinct A