Why aren’t school officials listening to Town Meeting on Garrison?

May 31, 2024

As the Concord School Committee twists itself into every possible position to avoid naming the new middle school after Ellen Garrison I find it suspect that suddenly Chair Alexa Anderson is saying, “I am concerned personally in 2024 that Concord has a school building [Ripley] named after a religious figure.” Anderson said, “This building [Ripley] will provide Ellen Garrison with far more exposure than the middle school. It exposes Ripley repeatedly to an enormous audience, all parents pre-K to 12, as well as community members.” Really?

Concord Middle Schools currently have 688 students. It is hard to imagine that Ripley has such an “enormous audience” considering the number of students, parents and staff who would be in or visiting the new middle school on a daily basis. Is Chair Anderson suggesting 700 people visit Ripley on a daily basis?

Ms. Anderson has been a member of the School Committee for four years and she suddenly has a concern for the name Ripley. If that concern was genuine, why has she been silent during her term? Her claims of DEI fall flat in her attempt to ignore the overwhelming support Ellen Garrison has received from Concord residents.

As Concord resident Connie Levine said to the School Board: “I feel like you’re being handed on a silver platter something to improve the diversity, equity, belonging and inclusion by naming the school Ellen Garrison. The townspeople, the Board of Selectmen, the League of Women Voters, have all told you that, but you don’t listen to them.”

It seems clear that the School Committee and Dr. Hunter have no interest in following the will of town residents which was clearly expressed at Town Meeting. While the School Committee holds authority for naming, Town Meeting is also a legitimate body that can and should be heard and respected.

David Hesel

Concord Greene