May 6, 2021
It’s hard to deny with a straight face that the Lawrence Public Schools are an abysmal failure.
After being so consistently incompetent that the state had to take over for chronic underperformance, you might think that the Lawrence Schools were finally headed in the right direction. But you would wrong. The fact is, Lawrence schools have been underperforming and robbing Latino children of an adequate education since I sat on the Lawrence School Committee in 1996.
It has consistently gotten worse since then.
One of the reasons why the Lawrence Schools are so bad is because the “leaders” in Lawrence – whenever faced with the reality of their failures – always distract from those failures with cries of “racism” and playing the victim.
So was the case this month when a member of the Massachusetts board of education rightfully called Lawrence educators to task for chronically failing the children of Lawrence.
Last month, State Board of Ed member Michael Moriarty said – in effect – that they were not lowering the standards for Lawrence anymore and will not be giving Lawrence any more chances to pretend they are making progress.
Moriarty correctly pointed out about Lawrence, “for a period of time now that we [the board] have been unable to take the kind of actions that are necessary, because of the deep inequities that exists from one district to a next; we know they can’t change themselves ‘cause they never do.”
Moriarty was factually 100% correct. For all the billions of dollars that have been pumped into the Lawrence Public School system since 1996 there has been no significant improvement in the education our public schools provide the children of Lawrence. It’s not racism holding these kids back, its not lack of funding.
Knowing this, Lawrence’s Acting Mayor Vasquez – a committed defender of the status quo – wasted no time accusing Moriarty of racism to distract from the failures of the Lawrence Public Schools.
In a public statement Vasquez said;
“His words have acted as a dog whistle and what you really want to say is that ‘immigrants are lazy people who do not care about education’. To insinuate that Lawrence Public Schools cannot change because of our past or our current status is offensive.”
Vasquez offered no evidence of racism, or that Moriarty thought “immigrants are lazy”, he simply saw the color of his skin and attacked him as a racist because he said what Vasquez didn’t want to hear, the truth!
Vasquez didn’t commit to turning around the schools, he didn’t offer any solutions, he just relied on the “dog whistle” propaganda hoping all this will just go away.
[A “dog whistle” is what political activists call a veiled racist statement meant only for those fellow racists to get the message, while everyone else only hears a benign statement.]
Yet there was nothing veiled or racist about the comments Moriarty made.
If Acting Mayor Kendrys Vasquez was a REAL leader, he would have acknowledged the failures of the Lawrence Public Schools (past and present) and then looked for ways to improve those failures. If he was a real leader and not a shill for political insiders, he would have called out those responsible for the education Lawrence kids are getting (or not getting as the case has it).
Instead, Vasquez took the cowards way out. He tried to undermine the truth by launching a racist attack against Moriarty because he is white, hoping people will be distracted from his own culpability as an elected official for the last 8 years.
This is why government never solves any real problems, especially in Lawrence.
The real racism here is the low expectations of failure held by the Lawrence Teachers Union, the school administrators, members of the Lawrence School Committee, the Lawrence Mayor (who heads the school committee) and the city councilors who blindly approved the Lawrence School Budgets for decades without even one question or revision.
Their actions show that they believe Lawrence kids are just not as smart as the white kids in Andover or North Andover.
What Kendryz Vasquez accuses Moriarty of doing is what he is guilty of himself – racism.
Why is it that kids in North Andover get a far better education than kids in Lawrence? It’s not because Latinos are stupid. It’s not because white kids are smarter. And it’s certainly not a lack of resources, as Lawrence gets about 150% of their school spending budget from the state and federal government. They have literally received billions of dollars over the last 30 years with nothing at all to show for it.
No, the excuses for the failures in Lawrence just don’t work anymore. Lawrence kids deserve the same level of education as the kids in Andover and North Andover and they are just not getting it.
What’s holding them back are those so called “leaders” who would rather play race politics and talk about “dog whistles” than hold the teachers and administrators accountable and devising a plan to give kids a better education.
Period, full stop.
But, that takes work. It’s hard. So, the default position for most Lawrence officials, is to whine that they are being picked on because of race. That is one sure way to make sure nothing will ever change.
In doing this, the media headlines go from “Lawrence Fails Their School Children” to “Mayor Accuses Board member of RACISM”.
And we all know which headline sells more papers.
We hope the people of Lawrence are smart enough to elect a new mayor this year who gets it. Someone who will look at Lawrence’s failures and stop making excuses. Someone who is committed to fixing problems and holding people accountable for the blatant and obvious failures of the Lawrence Public Schools.
After all, the kids of Lawrence deserve the same shot at success as the kids in other school systems.