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  • School vision logo

    New school year -- old educational questions

    Education. We pretend it begins for youngsters in September, when the leaves turn, but it continues through all of our season, every minute of every day, for everyone. Learning persists for two reasons -- human curiosity and technological change (you can't stop either one, but notice which is first). Shouldn't a third factor be classroom teachers? Good ones can have a lifelong effect, but our curiosity is the best guide, as technology draws us, often in too many directions, in the classroom that is everywhere. As Arlington schools open Tuesday, Sept. 2, what happens there is sliver of the educational story, albeit a key one for residents. Still, let's take a quick look at the new school year -- and then peer more broadly beyond it. ...

  • Pondering Our Future logo

    Spaced out? Many artists, but resistant owners

    Does Arlington have the imagination to embrace co-working? The town is trying to find out and held a forum in June attended by about 30 people. Read a summary of comments from some of the attendees here >>  See what properties in town may be available here >> Following publication, Eric Love, present at the forum, provided a brief critique. His LARP Adventure Program, aims to spur imaginations. ...

  • Arlington election logo

    Primary letters -- all welcome -- 8 ask you to vote for Berwick

    YourArlington welcomes letters to the editor from Arlington residents for all Massachusetts candidates whose election would have an impact on the town. Email them to sprague.bob at gmail.com. Here are eight supporting Don Berwick, who is seeking to be the Democratic nominee after the Sept. 9 primary. Send letters supporting any candidate in the primary. 'It's not just talk' Don Berwick, Democratic candidate for governor, speaks boldly about values and making Massachusetts a beacon for the nation. It’s not just talk -- he has met bold goals throughout his career.  Don is a creative leader with wise judgment and deep executive experience in complex bureaucracies, including as President Obama’s head of Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, that vast $800 billion federal agency.  His vision includes single-payer healthcare for Massachusetts, and he is the one candidate who understands how to make that happen; and, why it must happen, as rising healthcare costs consume o ...

  • Film reviews logo

    Review, ‘Life of Crime’: Leonard’s crew back at shenanigans

    This review by Tom Meek, a writer living in Cambridge, was originally published at Cambridge Day, a YourArlington partner, and is republished with permission. His reviews, essays, short stories and articles have appeared in The Boston Phoenix, The Rumpus, Thieves Jargon, Film Threat and Open Windows. He is a member of the Boston Society of Film Critics and rides his bike everywhere. You can follow Tom on Twitter @TBMeek3 and read more at TBMeek3.wordpress.com. Elmore Leonard, the beloved master crime and western novelist, transcended seamlessly the divide between pulp and celluloid. His career is littered with great novels that became great movies (“Get Shorty,” “Jackie Brown” and “Out of Sight” to name a few), a smattering of original screenplays (“Joe Kidd”) and even took a few turns as producer. Cormac McCarthy might be his only peer. ...

  • Image of leaves

    Searching for an Arlington poet laureate: YOU?

    Are you a poet -- and you do know it? What have you written? Anything published? Inquiring minds want to know. Rumor has it that Arlington could have its own poet laureate, perhaps next year. Could that be you? ...

  • Arlington election logo

    8 ask you to vote for Berwick; letters for others welcome

    YourArlington welcomes letters to the editor from Arlington residents for all Massachusetts candidates whose election would have an impact on the town. Email them to sprague.bob at gmail.com. Here are eight supporting Don Berwick, who is seeking to be the Democratic nominee after the Sept. 9 primary. Only candidate to oppose casinos   I write in support of Don Berwick for governor. I support Don because he is the only candidate for governor opposed to casinos. In a strong field of likable candidates, this is decisive for me. I saw the Detroit casino pull the life out of the Greektown neighborhood there, so that it looked like a bombed out war zone. ...

  • Chris Loreti, former Redevelopment Board member

    Loreti to seek Town Meeting article targeting assessors' fiasco

    Loreti The following opinion column by Christopher Loreti of Adams Street was first published in The Arlington Advocate, on Aug. 14, under the headline "It’s Time to Professionalize Arlington’s Board of Assessors." The full column, which includes a paragraph about YourArlington deleted from The Advocate's version, is republished here with permission. In January 2012, the state Department of Revenue provided to Arlington a “Town and School Finance Analysis,” which included several recommendations for restructuring town government. The report contained two recommendations related to the Board of Assessors. The first of these recommendations was that the town make the director of assessments position an appointment of the Town Manager instead of the Board of Assessors. The second was that the town consider changing the Board of Assessors from an elected to an appointed board. The actions of the Board of Assessors in recent months make it clear that the town needs to move forward w ...

  • Domestic-violence logo

    New law curbs domestic-violence reports: What about sexual-assault case?

    A new law, signed Aug. 8 by Governor Patrick, requires law enforcement to keep domestic-violence cases off public police logs initially, and the Arlington police department is complying. That means details about domestic violence reported to police are not immediately available to the media -- or to you. Had the law been in effect June 1, information about a sexual-assault case in East Arlington would have been delayed. Chief Fred Ryan reached out to area media outlets Aug. 12, alerting them about the law and asking for feedback. He explained: ...

  • 2014 Arlington Cal Ripken champs

    How about honoring this team, Arlington?

    The Arlington National U12 All-Stars baseball team did not win the 2014 Cal Ripken World Series, but the boys had one doozy of a ride. They had four wins in a row until they ran into a then-unbeaten Bronx squad and a heartbreaking, double come-from-behind 7-6 loss to a Florida team. No need to cry. What the team has done is remarkable. The town should recognize their on-the-diamond accomplishments, just as occurred in 2008, when an Arlington Cal Ripken team went to the Series. There was a parade down Mass. Ave. Officials spoke on the steps at Town Hall. It was August then, as it is now. You can read brief summaries about how the 2014 team played out in the Series here >> This is a story that The Advocate or Patch have yet to report. In the photo from left in rear are manager John Messuri, Coach Scott Jones, Spencer Friedman, James Santagati, Brendan Jones, Sam Theodore, Timothy Mazzei, Patrick Masci, Coach Rich Flynn; in front are Timothy Shaw, Jacob Ahern, Caden FitzPa ...

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 Tuesday Sept. 2, 2014 |  5:07:29 a.m.
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School Committee logo

Philosophy crowds out finances

The School Committee on Tuesday, June 22, accepted a job-saving check from a private fund-raising effort for $483,800, heard that the continuing shortfall likely means the loss of 98 positions and rejected a plea to encourage the Pledge of Allegiance in class despite a student's tears.

The 3-3 vote meant the measure to promote the 118-year-old oath written by a socialist, even if it was a recorded version, failed. In response, at least a dozen supporters of the two-year effort by Arlington High School student Sean Harrington walked out, some of them directing oaths of a nastier sort at the committee.


Boston Globe, June, 24: Toward a budget on Beacon Hill


Among the supporters admonished was Lyman Judd, a former longtime Town Meeting member and a veteran.

"I will not falter from my cause until my goal is met," said Harrington, who wept following the 3-3 vote. He said his cause had drawn taunts of "Nazi and fascist."

After Harrington came before the committee in 2008, asking that flags and the daily recitation of the Pledge be restored in all classrooms, the schools moved to add flags where they were needed. Joseph Curro Jr., committee chair, who said his father was a full colonel, said he personally replaced a flag.

But the committee at the time had not moved on the Pledge. It had received an opinion from town counsel that the state law Harrington cited in support of his claim that Arlington public school were acting illegally is unenforceable. Trumping it are decisions by the state Supreme Judicial Court and the US Supreme Court.

Trying again, this time with signatures from 700 people, including senators Kerry and McCain as well as Tea Party leaders, Harrington said he came to finish what he started.

"The Pledge of Allegiance is more than 31 words," Harrington said. "It is living and breathing statement that shows the bond a person has to their country."

"I commend you," Curro said. "But I disagree with your legal interpretation."

Committee member Joseph Curran gave Harrington's push an opening. "Our freedom is not free," he said, and he moved to reinstate the daily saying of the Pledge.

During discussion of the motion, member Judson Pierce asked Harrington about a couple of cases in which Jehovah’s Witnesses challenged the requirement of recite the Pledge. One was the 1943 case in West Virginia and another in Lynn, Mass., in the 1930s.

"I don't want it to be mandatory," Harrington said.

"I don't want to return to those days" before the rulings, Pierce said.

After some discussion in which it was clear that the votes to support Curran's view were not there, Curren revised his motion to call for a daily recitation either by willing participants or by the playing of a recording.

Committee member Leba Heigham said: "Patriotism is a very personal thing for all of us, but I do not think it is in the School Committee's best interest to mandate that any of our employees recite the Pledge."

Voting in favor were Curran, Curro and Starks. Opposed were members Heigham, Kirsi Allison-Ampe and Pierce. Jeff Thielman was out of town on business. Under a tie vote, a motion fails. 

The Pledge was written in 1892 by Francis Bellamy, a Baptist minister, a Christian socialist, and the cousin of socialist utopian novelist Edward Bellamy.

The current Pledge reads: "I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all." The "under God" was added by congress in 1954, as the McCarthy era was waning.

In other business, the committee received a check from the Bridge the Gap fund, destined for the Arlington Education Foundation. The money is expected to restore 18 positions, many of them part time.

The fund-raising effort has pulled in more than $100,000 after the June 7 deadline, but the committee voted, 6-0, to delay discussing what to do with the money until state and federal budget issues are clearer. A special meeting will be held this summer.

The fund can continue to receive money until the end of July.

Superintendent Kathleen Bodie told the committee that it appears that the budget shortfall will result in the loss of 98.6 positions.

Earlier, the Arlington High School cheerleaders announced they will again perform at the Gator Bowl in Florida next winter.

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