By Joshua Resnek
When more than 350 men, women and school children pack a School Committee meeting inside Everett High School you know something is up.
This is what happened Monday evening when the School Committee officially announced the layoffs that will be occurring because the mayor says the city can’t afford to fund the schools.
The mayor saying such a thing seems to be a stretch, since he has admitted the city treasury in all the city’s accounts is brimming with extra cash.
So why the layoffs – something like 110 layoffs, and this according to School Committee members, is just the beginning of much broader layoffs?
How does it happen, nearly everyone wanted to know, that during a time of fiscal plenty, the schools will bear the brunt of the mayor’s inability to understand the importance of the city’s public schools?
Superintendent of Public Schools Fred Foresteire was eloquent and to the point with his remarks before the crowd.
“If we don’t take care of the city’s young people they’ll be in the streets. There are more of them than there are of us,” he said.
What he was really saying is this – if you, the mayor, don’t write the check, then it’s all on you. And what is that? It is the destruction of all the good done for all the years that Foresteire has been building up the school system here.
What he was really saying is that Everett isn’t a big rich city where everyone grows up privileged.
Everett is a place, he seemed to say, where the public schools are about the only safe haven for so many young people who are growing up with nothing but what the city has to offer to them.
Take this away, and many of these kids relying on the city for their pride and their joy, not to mention their educations, are reduced to nothing.
And kids reduced to nothing end up growing up in the streets and doing things that will not benefit the city, themselves or the mayor’s reputation, Forsrteire seemed to guarantee.
Let’s face it and let’s be honest about it.
The mayor won’t give the extra money the School Department needs because it makes Foresteire look like a better leader and the mayor doesn’t want Foresteire to look better than he does.
All politics is local but all politics is personal.
In Everett, there is an ongoing battle between Foresteire and the mayor.
The mayor is inclined to do whatever he can to dirty Foresteire’s face – and Foresteire for his part, just wants to keep the school miracle here going.
Foresteire doesn’t want to be mayor as much as the mayor wants to control Foresteire and the public schools.
This is just the way it is because of the way the mayor thinks.
What is at risk here is diminishing the grandeur of everything that has been built up here for years to elevate the position of the Everett Public Schools as the city’s pillar – and it is a pillar.
Neighboring public school systems pale by comparison to Everett’s, where 64% of the kids speak English as a second language, who come from broken poverty stricken homes or who are so poverty stricken they might not survive.
Thousands and thousands of kids are given their golden shining chance to succeed in the Everett Public Schools.
Not to meet a budget deficit when the city is flush with money from a casino coming is just wrong.
For the mayor to be so cavalier about the city is wrong.
With one sweep of his pen inside his $1.5 million home with a pair of late-model Mercedes in the driveway, the mayor can end this cheap political charade and do what is right.
Will he do this?
Not if he thinks for a minute it will make Foresteire’s life any easier.
You see, not funding the deficit proves to the mayor that he is more powerful than Foresteire.
Yet Foresteire’s words in front of 350 Everett teachers and School Department employees about to be laid off resonated with the heartbeat of what makes the city great.
It is a shame the mayor wasn’t there.
The real shame is that the mayor is toying with peoples’ lives when he’s got the public funds to eliminate the deficit.