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“What our Pepperell parents believe is they’re a different type of community than they actually are.” That is what the Assistant Superintendent of North Middlesex Regional School District said in a recent Boston Globe article (Feb. 10, 2011) when a parent from Pepperell said she would like to compare our children’s performance to our neighboring district, Groton-Dunstable.

What is that supposed to mean? As a parent and member of the North Middlesex Regional School Committee, I am deeply saddened by such a comment and what that means for our children. Brady said that children from low-income families make up 13.1 percent of the North Middlesex District, while Groton-Dunstable’s low-income students represent 3.3 percent of its’ district population. Brady goes on to say that North Middlesex has 4 percent more special education students than Groton-Dunstable. Isn’t that what the “No Children Left Behind” is suppose to address, that every child is entitled to an excellent education regardless of socieo-economic factors? Does that mean we should set the bar lower because we are not as affluent as our neighboring towns? It causes one to question the mindset of the leadership in the district to accept the status quo using economic background to determine academic achievement. It is a defeatest attitude and one that has no place in the education of our children. The leadership would like us to believe that because we may not be as affluent as surrounding towns, we can’t expect our students to perform as well. I am not willing to accept that.

As an educator in the Westford Public Schools, I can see that children in Westford are not any smarter or capable than children in Pepperell, and I am sure it is the same as compared to neighboring Groton-Dunstable. I, for one, believe in our students, but as long as the leadership in North Middlesex uses affluence to measure educational achievement, there will not be much change in our district. I believe our children deserve better.

JONNA CLERMONT

Pepperell parent

North Middlesex Regional School

Committee member

Westford public school educator