To the editor:
The recent conflicts in Marblehead — the leadership of the School Committee and its lack of transparency, racism and the question of what flags to fly at our schools and how to manage town property — reflect the conflicts we are having as a country. As we approach Thanksgiving, I’d like to share my thoughts on these events with thanks and concerns.
Thanks to the Marblehead Current for giving us a newspaper that reflects the values of democracy and good journalism, reporting the facts — good and bad, including letters to the editor that help readers understand how others in town think. Democracy depends on an independent press to hold officials and the government accountable. I was impressed with the editorial on Nov. 8, which provided a thoughtful, thorough explanation for filing a public records request in response to Sarah Fox’s suggestion that the Current was providing a “roadmap” for complaints against the School Committee. Good journalism provides the facts; it doesn’t control readers’ responses.
Thanks, too, to readers brave enough to take the time to write passionate, thoughtful letters. Here are some writers that stood out to me:
- Mary McCarriston consistently criticized the School Committee for the way it operates, especially around the resignation of former superintendent John Buckley. Sometimes one can negatively view a person who writes repeatedly, but reading her letters, I realized how compelled she is to communicate what she sees as wrong and she uses specific examples to back up her opinions. I salute her bravery for continually putting her voice out there.
- Erin Noonan for a thorough, detailed explanation about the Coffin School property that enabled the reader to see the difference between the town’s strategic thinking and the School Committee’s.
- The letter from the unidentified writer had the most impact. It was rational, unbiased, educational and right on point. Yet, he or she did not feel professionally safe enough to sign his or her name to it! How scary is that? I repeat: How scary is it when an intelligent educational professional teaching our children does not feel safe enough professionally to reveal his or her name?
I’m concerned about our town and our School Committee. I am a retired executive coach with a specialty in women’s leadership who ran a successful executive coaching company for almost 20 years, helping corporate leaders around the globe develop their leadership. High-performing teams require a leader who knows how to build trust through example, honesty, transparency, good communication skills and emotional intelligence, which includes the ability to own mistakes and learn from them. The situations with John Buckley and the Coffin School also cause concern about the committee’s fiscal acumen. To help the School Committee and the chair improve their performance, it would be wise to provide individual leadership coaching and team-building training. We need to make sure the School Committee gets the help it — and we — desperately need.