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Therese Ross: Little Red Schoolhouse community keeps its focus

To the editor:

On Amherst College’s pristine campus, just up the hill from The Little Red Schoolhouse, the excavators are now silent and the dust has settled. If you listen carefully you can hear the echoing voices of young children who ask — with typical 4-year old fervor and curiosity, “Why can’t I go to my preschool again next year? Why does The Little Red Schoolhouse have to close?” And if you listen even more closely, you can hear the last muffled jingle of Little Red’s endowment fund as it is surreptitiously absorbed into Amherst College’s already overflowing coffers.

Schoolhouse supporters in the Amherst community have worked tirelessly to preserve Little Red’s endowment — established in 1947 — and have pursued alternative locations in central Amherst, all to no avail. They, too, ask with wonder, “Why does campus re-planning require elimination of a reputable and historic early childhood program?” People don’t pay much attention to such tales of Goliath’s victories; maybe because the humanness of David in these instances hits too close to home. The Little Red Schoolhouse offered to collaborate with Amherst College, jumped through the hoops of proposal presentation and articulated its many strengths (excellent curriculum, affordability, rave reviews, history, sense of community, and more). The Goliath that is Amherst College failed to provide requested data, evicted Little Red then doubled back to state that the program had no location and thus the business proposal could not be accepted. It is a classic example of obfuscation, political spin and disrespect.

It is a shame that an institution claiming to combine “a strong sense of community with openness — to people, ideas and differences” would ignore the voices of the children, their parents, its own students, and so many more who understand the importance of quality early childhood education. We members of The Little Red Schoolhouse community, however, have the grit and resilience to keep our focus on doing what is right for those whose voices cannot be heard. Thank you to all who share our commitment to providing equal access to affordable, quality early childhood experiences.

Therese Ross, director

The Little Red Schoolhouse


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