DAVE CARLIN FOR NEWPORT SCHOOL COMMITTEE
If you have a minute, I’d like to tell you a few things about my views as I run for re-election to the Newport School Committee.
1. About my general philosophy.
Unlike many members of American school boards, I believe in being an active member of the Newport School Committee. Many school board members, not just in Newport but all around the USA, believe that service on a school board carries few responsibilities with it. You become a passive member of the school board. Your job is only to be a cheerleader and a rubber-stamp for anything the superintendent proposes.
Well, that’s not my view. I believe that membership on a school board is an honor and is a great responsibility.
For another, I believe it is my duty to learn first-hand what is going on in our schools, not rely on second-hand reports filtered through the administration. That’s why I have spent many, many hours during the past 2 years visiting our three schools (Pell, Thompson, Rogers), where I observe classes and talk personally with students, teachers, and other staff.
I believe it is my duty to protect the taxpayers while at the same time looking out for the interests of students and teachers. That’s why I don’t rubber-stamp the budget proposed by the superintendent. I scrutinize it. I criticize it where I think it needs to be criticized. I propose amendments where I feel they are needed.
I always keep in mind that superintendents work for school committees, not the other way around. And members of the school committee work for you, the residents and taxpayers of the city. While I am generally supportive of the superintendent, I am willing to disagree with her when I feel disagreement is warranted.
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2. Some happy specifics.
We have much to be pleased with in our Newport public schools.
For one thing, Rogers High School sends its graduates to some of the finest colleges and universities in America for instance, Brown, Yale, Vanderbilt, Boston College, and the US military service academies.
For another, Rogers has an excellent JROTC program, preparing many participating students for patriotic service in the US military. Our high school also helps prepare graduates to directly enter the workforce with skills they have learned -and mastered- through enrollment in our career and technical center. Hardly a week goes by without hearing accolades about our residential carpentry, automotive, culinary arts, design/new media, cosmetology and information technology programs.
Further, many of our students at Rogers, Thompson, and Pell participate in arts programs, where they excel in drama, music, visual arts, creative writing, and much more. Our students at the elementary and middle school levels provide many hours of enjoyment for the public by participating in parades, performing concerts, volunteering for those in need in our community and much, much more. Every Newport resident is proud of our student achievements.
We have an excellent teaching staff at our three schools. I have spent many hours over the past two years talking with these teachers and observing them in action. They are smart, dedicated, and energetic. Our kids are lucky to have them.
As a bonus, Newporters take great pride in our schools, which they regard as an essential part of the community. They are especially attentive to, and supportive of, our school athletic teams. I think that’s wonderful.
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3. Some not-so-happy specifics.
I am especially concerned with four academic weaknesses in our Newport schools.
First, too many of our Rogers High grads are unprepared to succeed in post-secondary schooling. Much of this is due to two factors: (1) a lack of appropriate STEM/STEAM coursework; and (2) a failure to partner with the business community to determine what skills are needed by employers.
Second, a dismal attendance and tardiness rate at Rogers and a less-than-acceptable attendance and tardiness rate at Pell. I blame this on two factors: (1) the lack of serious sanctions at Rogers for being tardy or absent; and (2) the terrible practice of social promotion.
Third, while Rogers does an excellent job of preparing many students to move directly from school to good jobs in the world of income-producing work, we don’t do this for all non-college-bound students. We have to improve our record here. We don’t want to leave any kids behind.
Finally, a lack of appropriate information technology resources for students, teachers, and staff.
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4. Promises made, promises kept.
When I ran for School Committee in 2014, I promised to work on the disgraceful drop-out rate at Rogers. At that time the rate was 32 percent. It has been reduced now to 18 percent.
In 2014 I complained that Newport’s per pupil expenditure (PPE) was very nearly the highest in the state. I promised to work on that. Today’s PPE is much lower, moving closer to the statewide average.
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5. My plans for the next two years.
In Section #3 above, I outlined four deficiencies. My plan, if re-elected, is to work hard at repairing these shortcomings.
As a member of the Newport School Committee, I always keep in mind two top priorities: the good of the kids and the good of the taxpayers. Some people tell me you have to choose one of these, you cannot do both. They say that you have to be either (a) pro-kid and anti-taxpayer or (b) pro-taxpayer and anti-kid. You can’t be both at once, they say.
I emphatically disagree. I believe you can be both at once. In fact I believe that you have no business on the School Committee unless you are both at once.
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Thank you for taking the time and trouble to read all this. With respect, I ask that you cast one of your seven School Committee votes for me on November 8.
If you have any questions, please feel free to use the information below to contact me anytime.
David R. Carlin III
Member, Newport School Committee
3 Rose Street
(401) 849-3748 -home
(401) 862-5027 -cell