Puzzling ‘sleight of hand’ on middle school naming 

June 7, 2024

2024 Town Meeting attendees voted overwhelmingly to pass Article 22, which advised the School Committee to name the new school after Ellen Garrison. Reading your May 24 issue, they will conclude that the School Committee had slighted their advice. They might also be puzzled by the sleight of hand with which the committee has chosen instead to embrace the  recommendations of a proposed amendment to Article 22. Town Meeting roundly rejected that amendment before it overwhelmingly endorsed Article 22. In short, the School Committee chose to adopt what Town Meeting had clearly rejected, and to reject what TM had clearly advocated. 

Had those voters attended the May 20 School Committee meeting, they would have heard School Committee members and members of the public confirm that the decision was an important one, with repercussions for, in, and beyond the community.  Many speakers stressed that we were educating our children in how adults deal rationally with convictions that animate them passionately. There was much concern expressed over divisiveness, and much emphasis on resolving differences fairly. So when one committee member advanced a motion that proposed a genuine compromise, I expected that the School Committee would behave as your article’s title suggests it did: that it would reach for compromise. But the motion — that the new school be named the Ellen Garrison Concord Middle School — received no second, no discussion, no vote.

Ellen Garrison’s advocates have made no curricular incursions, invaded no libraries, forbidden no books. They have offered the School Committee the great privilege and pleasure of an educated mind: the chance to change one’s views based on new knowledge.  I’m sorry the committee had denied itself, and Concord, that possibility.

Julia Genster

Central Street