Monday, January 30, 2017

Thoughts on Recent Events

As superintendent, I am often hesitant about speaking publicly on matters of larger political discourse beyond Billerica.  Although I hold my own personal views, my professional responsibility is to ensure that I am advocating for all children and families of Billerica, regardless of their political ideologies.

That being said, the events of the past few days leave me no choice but to speak.

It is one of our core fundamental values as a district that we all have a collective responsibility for all of our students - and that all means all.  That is our unwavering belief, and we remain steadfastly committed to ensuring that the Billerica Public Schools are a place where all children are welcome and safe.

This morning, I read a letter from Superintendent Eric Conti to the students of the Burlington Public Schools.  Since I would be unable to write anything more eloquently than he did, I share his words below.  Please know that these words stand for our students in Billerica as well.

January 30, 2017
An Open Letter to Burlington Students:
It is hard not to hear many adult conversations and see news reports around you regarding the recent restrictions on immigration.  Many people are struggling with questions of belonging.  Some question if everyone belongs and whether we can be safe.  Please be assured that all of you belong in the Burlington Schools.  Our commitment to educating all of you has never been more unyielding and important.
In my opinion, adults simply need to look inside our classrooms and learn from you.  I see classrooms where everyone is accepted regardless of faith, culture, ability, economic standing, and other differences.  You all believe in the best of your classmates and their intentions.  What you may not realize is that these lessons have been at the heart of public schools for a long time.
A part of the answer to the question of who belongs in public school can be seen in the Supreme Court’s decision of Plyler v. Doe (1982).  In Plyler, the Supreme Court determined that children belong in our public schools no matter how the children came to live in a community.  In other words, a child’s immigration status is not relevant.  You are all learners first.  If you live in Burlington, you are welcome in school.  You belong in school.  You are safe in school.  You are loved in school.
Moreover, nearly 75 years prior to the Plyler decision, John Dewey, a great American philosopher, psychologist and educational reformer, said:
“The intermingling in the school of youth of different races, differing religions, and unlike customs creates for all a new and broader environment. Common subject matter accustoms all to a unity of outlook upon a broader horizon than is visible to the members of any group while it is isolated. The assimilative force of the American public school is eloquent testimony to the efficacy of the common and balanced appeal.”
Please know that all of you belong, and together in Burlington, we are creating a broader horizon for everyone.
Thank you, Eric Conti  


  1. Thank goodness for enlightened educators like you! Please keep up the good work and keep speaking up for ALL students. I anticipate many other school districts standing with you.