Candidate at a glance
Ross M. Grace Jr.
Do you agree with the current policy of mandating masks for students and staff in New Bedford schools? If not, how would you want to change the policy? If yes, what would you say to those who oppose it?
Having worked in the public schools for over 17 years as a school adjustment counselor then assistant principal, there is nothing more important than student safety. It’s important that we work together and respect individual differences. I support the use of masks for students and educators in our buildings because we want to decrease the likelihood of catching or transmitting this virus. We have to be considerate of one another and consider the implications of our decisions, not only for ourselves but for those around us. We are a community, and it is in our best interests to communicate, share ideas and express differences respectfully, but safety is paramount for ourselves and our neighbors.
New Bedford Schools reported that the total four-year graduation rate has increased by more than 32 percentage points — from 55.8% in 2010 to 88.1% in 2020. To what do you attribute this significant gain?
This is a testimony to our outstanding educators, who need to be recognized and celebrated. At the same time, we need to ensure that our students are prepared for life. We must expand opportunities to maximize student talents with more tech-ed classes, vocational skills, and classes to assist with social and economic challenges that young people face daily. Graduation rates and high scores should correlate with instilling confidence, character, determination and goals that shape our students. While we celebrate these numbers, we must be cautious about putting too much faith in reports and data that often are utilized for narratives that don’t reflect reality.
New Bedford is one of the school districts across Massachusetts that have underreported or falsely reported “zero” interactions between police and students. The lack of credible data has stymied a review of school resource officers, and the U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights is now looking into the district’s reporting. What will you do to ensure that this information is accurately reported in the future?
Transparency is the key to effective decision-making. I have been witness to administrators creating a “smoke and mirrors” culture. I’ve seen the consequences of underreporting and selective reporting. Data can be manipulated, but this doesn’t help us decide how to effectively allocate resources. Having worked in the schools, I have a finger on the pulse of what is really going on. When students feel connected and invested in their education; when educators feel valued and supported; when families feel they are part of the process, then negative behaviors and arrests decrease. This is a collective effort. We all want what’s best for our children, and I will bring my personal and professional experience to unite educators, students and families.
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