Editorial, Opinion

EDIT: The FreeP endorses John Connolly

For the past 20 years, Boston Mayor Thomas Menino has risen to become an integral part of the city. Back in a 1996 address, he began a journey to become the “education mayor” and challenged residents to judge him if his overhaul of the public school system failed, according to a March 29 Boston Globe article. Since then, he has pushed historically low dropout rates, higher standardized test scores and a rising college completion rate among Boston natives.

Education is a central issue to Boston, and this is why The Daily Free Press has chosen to endorse City Councilor John Connolly for mayor of Boston.

If he sees an overhaul of the education system though, revamping the city from the ground up, will encourage more families to move into the city because of the quality of the public schools. Connolly’s plan includes building more public school buildings and fostering relationships between high schools and universities in the city.  Not only will he continue Menino’s excellent legacy of keeping more students in school, Connolly’s plan will get more high school graduates into college, perhaps in the Boston area.

Boston is an incredibly educated city — just look at the number of top-class universities. There is no reason why residents should have to send their children to private and charter schools for a better education. Boston Public Schools should offer the same education and sporting opportunities as suburban schools 10 miles away. People should not only be comfortable sending their children to a public school in the city — they should be enthusiastic to do so. If we build more public schools in Boston proper, it will help anchor families in the city and make the area a more desirable, safer and better-educated home without gentrifying it.

We are confident Connolly has the expertise to implement his plans and make these changes. With a Harvard University degree and years of experience as an urban public school teacher, he knows his way through the education system and he will be able to balance longer-term planning with an awareness of how to work with schools immediately. His rhetoric has also remained completely stable, showing that he is incredibly sure of his ideas and plans to change schools.

This is evident from his responses in every debate throughout the campaign. Both candidates faced questions about how they plan to close the achievement gap. Connolly plans to unite the universities and non-profit organizations to provide assets to disadvantaged students in the city. This is indicative of a resourceful candidate.

This is not to say that his opponent Marty Walsh is a bad candidate, though. He strives to lower the burden on the working class and work with unions to create better conditions for blue collar Bostonians. He has a compelling backstory, one of enduring success in the face of adversity. As someone who grew up economically disadvantaged, it’s amazing to see how he has carved himself into a strong, viable political candidate.  And Walsh has also focused on education — Connolly is just the better candidate given his expertise and experience.

But the unions have heavily funded Walsh’s campaign. Money is the loudest voice in any political campaign. If Walsh is elected, will he prioritize their demands over his constituents’? He does not have the same proven record in education as Connolly, and for this, we believe Connolly will accomplish more.

More than 15 years ago, Menino successfully changed public schools, but it is time for another public school renovation. Menino did start a lot of initiatives that continued through his term, but those are now in need of John Connolly’s fresh perspective. It will be interesting to see how Connolly follows in Menino’s footsteps if he is elected.

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