Town Elections: School Committee Candidate Withdraws
The School Committee race is no longer contested after newcomer Andrei Radulescu-Banu's decision to withdraw. Via email, Radulesco-Banu says instead of a competitive campaign, he wants to see a cooperative solution to problems the SC is confronting.
The following announcement was provided by Cedar Street resident Andrei Radulescu-Banu, explaining his decision to withdraw from the race for School Committee.
Last year, I decided to run for School Committee and dedicated myself to the improvement of the curriculum in our schools. The most glaring thing missing in the curriculum being the absence of foreign languages in our elementary schools, over the fall of 2011 I set up a web site called lex4lang.org where I documented some facts about foreign languages.
In my investigation, I found that Lincoln begins a foreign language in grade 3. Bedford offers a choice between between two foreign languages starting with grade 3. Weston begins a foreign language in 1st grade, and Carlisle begins in Kindergarten. So why can't Lexington, I asked myself?
Lexington has not had since 2007 any foreign language instruction in our elementary schools. But language fluency takes years to develop, and is more easily achieved if study is started in the elementary school and continued through middle and high school. Young children need the cognitive challenge of a second language, and still possess the capacity to develop near perfect pronunciation in a foreign language.
To my dismay, I determined that we have been spending too much time teaching math and English in the elementary schools to the exclusion of things like foreign languages. We love our high MCAS scores. But we have forgotten that the MCAS was not created in order to take instructional time from the other disciplines. It was created in order to get smarter math and English instruction.
Yet as a former MIT Ph.D. in math and a current software architect, I observed that Lexington elementary schools have failed to avail themselves of best international practices in mathematics, and instead had used Everyday Math which did not challenge our children and left parents flocking to alternatives (such as the Russian School of Mathematics, the Chinese School or Kumon).
As I began to campaign and listen to the voice of the community, these curriculum areas were reaffirmed, but I was also taken aback by something else going on. I found deep anger in the community over the events of last year: the retirement of some great teachers, the censorship of Columbinus, the teacher morale issue, the renewal of Paul Ash's contract, and accusations that the school committee was not overseeing the superintendent effectively. This anger compounded issues from earlier years such as forced changes at Diamond (teaming, project day) and changes to the private extended day programs.
As a candidate, I struggled to integrate these issues into my campaign. I wanted to talk positively about the schools, and start from a solid foundation to drive towards excellence. Yet, in many corners where I sought support, people wanted me to focus on last year's events and commit to ensuring the school committee again take responsibility for managing the superintendent and Lexington's great schools.
Reflecting on my options, I concluded that I could not run a campaign dwelling on negative sentiment. It would be unhealthy for the community, and conflicting with my core values. Yet, the anger and frustration with the events of last year run so deep, that I have determined that these issues must be addressed immediately before further progress can be made towards excellence in our schools.
It is therefore with regret that I have decided to withdraw my candidacy for school committee. Rather than channel my energy, as well as esteemed competitors Mary Ann Stewart and Jessie Steigerwald, into a competitive campaign, I think we should stop and recognize the problems the school committee is confronting and work together towards a cooperative solution.
I urge community members to step forward and offer the school committee their support in working on these issues and I call upon the school committee to immediately engage the community in an open dialogue. Given the levels of distrust currently expressed in the school committee and the superintendent, I would encourage the use of public forum events as venues for the public to engage in discussion and express its views.
Lexington has a unique history of citizen participation, a caring community, and educational excellence. I am committed to contributing positively to this dialogue, and hope that you will join me in doing so. I would like to thank everyone who has supported my campaign, and look forward to positive steps together in 2012.