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Keep options open in debate over school committee

March 15, 2009
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I WANT to correct the record from the Globe editorial about Boston's School Committee ("Yoon: Bury this bad idea," Short Fuse, March 8). I never said we should return to an elected committee, but that it ought to be part of the discussion.

The editorial cited valid reasons why Boston replaced the elected school committee in favor of an appointed one. The elected committee was a dysfunctional body, hiring and firing school superintendents annually. Raymond Flynn, mayor at the time, challenged the system and offered residents the chance to vote on the change.

Flynn saw that unless we were willing to boldly reexamine every aspect of how our schools operate, we would not achieve the transformational change our schools and children needed. The appointed committee stabilized our schools, and, together with the schools superintendent, Thomas Payzant, made steady, incremental progress. But we are still light years away from where we need our schools to be.

I question whether an appointed school committee can always advocate for wholesale change. We need a school committee that will avoid abuses of the past while bringing accountability and differing viewpoints to our schools. This requires a top-to-bottom examination of the current system.

Until we are satisfied with our schools, we must continue the debate.

Sam Yoon
Boston
The writer is a city councilor and a candidate for mayor.

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