EDITORIAL: Wilmington Apple Endorses David Ragsdale For Wilmington School Committee

Dear Wilmington,

The Wilmington Apple has never made a political endorsement before. Not in 7 years. I recognize my endorsement may not mean much to most, but I feel VERY strongly on this one.

I’m asking you, to please strongly consider casting one of your two votes in the 3-year School Committee race for David Ragsdale this Saturday, April 24, 2021.

Aside from Peggy Kane, David Ragsdale is the most well-rounded School Committee member I’ve seen in my 20+ years of watching meetings. (And I haven’t missed a regularly scheduled meeting since 1999. I’m such a nerd.)

David somehow manages to be both the smartest guy in the room and nicest guy in the room simultaneously – no easy feat. His professional background makes him uniquely beneficial to the Committee — he works for the Massachusetts Department of Elementary & Secondary Education. His knowledge of local and state education policy is off the charts. It’s on display at every meeting. Look at the Committee’s meeting just last week. The Assistant Superintendent gave a 10-minute presentation on how the district plans on handling homework for the final 8 weeks of school. Essentially, the district says it’s going to reduce the homework time guidelines for each grade. After every committee member had an opportunity to comment, David was the one to speak up and point out that the district actually ELIMIANTED the time guidelines from its homework policy back in 2018, and that the entire presentation was based on inaccurate and out-of-date information. There are dozens of moments like this from David all throughout his 3 years on the Committee – nothing gets past him – and his comments, questions, and suggested motions often move the district in the right direction.

David puts the work in, both at the meetings and, more importantly, in between the meetings. There is nothing worse than electing someone who doesn’t seem to do much of anything. David is a work horse. In addition to his Vice Chair responsibilities, he is Co-Chair of the Policy Subcommittee, which is – by far – the Committee’s most influential and active subcommittee. (He and his subcommittee members are currently engaged in a page-by-page review of the policy manual.) David always comes to the meetings prepared. He listens. He treats his colleagues respectfully. He is held in high esteem by his colleagues and the district leadership team. He asks the right questions – the questions you’re asking yourself while you’re watching the meetings. And, most of all, David truly cares about the success of the school system. He’s in this for the right reasons. How do we know? He attended just about every School Committee meetings for 2 years before joining the Committee. (He and I were often the only two people in the audience if some of the SEPAC parents weren’t present.) He volunteered on several boards and committees, including the Superintendent Search Committee, before even thinking about running for office. And, of course, he has a vested interest as a father of three girls who attend Wilmington Public Schools.

I understand some parents & guardians are understandably angry with how the district handled COVID-19. The answer to that frustration, however, is not to reject one of the best School Committee members Wilmington has seen in a long, long time. David has been a proponent of a safe return to in-person learning. And Wilmington is finally there. (And, yes, districts across the state, including Wilmington, should have gotten there a bit sooner in my opinion.)

While I’m relieved the entire district will be back to full in-person learning on Monday, I worry what the past 14 months have done to Wilmington’s youth. I, for one, want the guy who has worked in state education for the past 10 years – his knowledge, his expertise, his connections – and the guy who – by the accounts of regular meeting observers like me – has done an all-around stellar job on the School Committee for the past 3 years – to keep serving Wilmington during what’s going to be a very difficult and consequential next 3 years. We need David Ragsdale on the School Committee now more than ever.

Sincerely,

Robert Hayes
Wilmington Apple, Editor

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