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Jose Gonzalez: Actions, unfortunately, speak louder than words in Amherst

JERREY ROBERTS
Bet Power, of Northampton, holds a sign during a vigil for Amherst Regional High School teacher Carolyn Gardner organized by Stand Against Institutional Racism, a newly-formed coalition, Tuesday on the Amherst Common.

JERREY ROBERTS Bet Power, of Northampton, holds a sign during a vigil for Amherst Regional High School teacher Carolyn Gardner organized by Stand Against Institutional Racism, a newly-formed coalition, Tuesday on the Amherst Common. Purchase photo reprints »

To the editor:

The recent events at Amherst Regional High School and the unfortunate follow-up response by the local school committee are discouraging situations and cause for concern to those of us who have attempted to solve these problems in the past.

As a parent I participated in addressing these same issues nearly 15 years ago when they also affected a previous generation of ARHS students and parents.

This is not a new issue. Parents today need to know that this is an unresolved problem that is being passed along down the line, and equally affecting successive groups of students.

I personally had meetings with past administrators (John Burruto and Gus Sayer) concerning these very same problems. There was plenty of talk then also from school administrators about the need and desire for changes and the intention to be more open and inclusive to all sectors of our community. Studies would be done, committees formed and actions would be implemented as we all moved on to becoming a multicultural school system.

The promise to seek out and hire a proportionate level of minority staff never materialized and recent events show further deterioration. As a retired educator I am saddened and upset that any fellow teacher should be forced to leave any school under such negative conditions.

The recent action of the school committee manipulating the rule book to shut down a group of rightfully concerned parents who wanted to speak up did not help at all. It sent out a clear message to an entire sector of our community. “Don’t bother coming here ... we are not interested in listening to you.” You cannot talk of unity and inclusion while actually shutting people down. “Privilege” is the many times people have been allowed to talk to the School Committee without the strict enforcement of time limitation rules.

Privilege denied is when the same school committee leadership decides abruptly to enforce the strict rules selectively, only on the evening when minority parents came to speak up to their elected officials. Actions speak louder than words.

Jose Gonzalez

Amherst

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