Letter to the Editor: Thank You to Town Clerk Bridget Rodrigue

The League of Women Voters of Bedford would like to express its gratitude to the Town Clerk, Bridget Rodrigue, her staff and poll workers, and election volunteers. 

We had an enormous turnout [for the 2020 election] and no matter how you voted, your vote was counted correctly and quickly. 

In-person voting was safe and convenient. Staff and volunteers were friendly and positive and committed to making sure our right to vote was their priority.

Letter to the Editor: Thank You from the Friends of the Library’s Online Bookstore

The launch of the Friends of the Bedford Library Online Bookstore has gone well, and we thank you for your enthusiastic support!  We’ve heard from many happy customers who have enjoyed getting great books delivered right to their door.

We continually re-stock the store with new book sets and special offerings for adults, teens, and children.  So please check back often!

Letter to the Editor: Jim Shea – Bedford Cable TV and Depot Park Pioneer

On Monday night October 26th the Bedford Select Board voted 4-1 not to reappoint Jim Shea to the Community Media Committee (formerly Bedford Cable TV Committee). That was a big disappointment for those of us who know Jim and have seen his enormous accomplishments over four decades for the Town’s cable TV system and Depot Park. Here is a brief history:

Letter to the Editor: Keep Bedford Schools Safe – Another Open Letter to the Bedford School Committee and Superintendent Conrad

This letter is in response to the earlier Letter to the Editor from the Bring Bedford Back Safely group advocating for “a plan to maximize in-person learning, with an ultimate goal to resume full-time in-person learning as soon as possible.”  While we also wish we could resume full-time in-person learning, and sympathize with the struggles these families are having, we want to add to the conversation by voicing different opinions on priorities and timing.  We also want to recognize that we all have voiced a common goal of safety and are in agreement that is number one. 

The safety of our children, teachers, and families is our top priority. We too value in-person learning, but we would only be in favor of in-person learning models that maintain appropriate safety measures. Specifically, safety measures must include student and teacher spacing of 6 feet or more until the scientists at the CDC say social distancing with people outside your household is no longer necessary. We feel that the current hybrid model is working for many students, although we recognize it is not working for all. The hybrid model is providing vitally important in-person learning with appropriate safety measures. COVID-19 infections are currently increasing in our area, and the safety measures we have in place at our schools are critical. Any movement to increase the amount of in-person learning at the Bedford Public Schools must maintain the 6-foot spacing or many of us will feel forced to switch to all-remote, which is not what we want for our children.

During the initial exploration of full-time in-person learning over the summer, the schools determined that that model was not possible while maintaining 6-foot spacing between students and teachers. In the letter written by the Bring Bedford Back Safely group, they ask for full-time in-person learning but do not address how they propose to overcome this obstacle. We want to request that if the school district explores possibilities for full-time in-person learning, they maintain the 6-foot spacing between students and teachers, as we all have a common goal of keeping our students and teachers safe.

Community Voices @ The Bedford Citizen: Reflections on an Executive Order

On September 22, 2020 President Trump issued Executive Order 13950 titled “Executive Order on Combating Race and Sex Stereotyping.”  This Executive Order followed a previous communication to all executive departments and agencies that: “It has come to the President’s attention that Executive Branch Agencies have spent millions of taxpayer dollars to date “training” government workers to believe divisive, anti-American propaganda.”  According to the memo, “…employees from across the Executive Branch have been required to attend trainings where they are told that “virtually all White people contribute to racism or where they are required to say that they “benefit from racism.”  It appears that the Executive Order is targeting any training that suggests white privilege and unconscious racial bias are legitimate concepts that can be used to teach sensitivity about differences that may exist between one’s own and another’s experience and point of view.

OpEd: Write-in Candidate for State Senate, Peter G. Hill

Senator Michael Barrett is running unopposed for State Senate here in Massachusetts.  I am asking voters to write in my name Peter G. Hill for State Senate.  One asks why I would ask you to do this.

Letter to the Editor: An Open Letter to the Bedford School Committee and Superintendent Conrad

Thank you to the teachers, administration, committee members, and volunteers for the hard work and many hours it’s taken to develop our reopening plans and safely enable some form of in-person learning this fall. This letter’s intent is to share the dialogue that many concerned parents have had privately with various members of the school administration, School Committee members, and Town staff. There is a growing group of Bedford School District parents (the Facebook group Bring Bedford Back Safely currently has almost 70 members) who find remote instruction unworkable despite everyone’s best efforts. We are asking the collective decision makers in Bedford to prioritize the development of a data-driven, metrics-based plan to safely enable a return to full in-person learning. 

Letter to the Editor: Thank You to the Town of Bedford

With deep appreciation, we would like to thank Town Manager Sarah Stanton, the Town of Bedford, and the DPW.

After receiving my request for wheelchair access to 200 Great Road Plaza (Blue Fuji-Bedford Auto), a repaired access ramp was placed at the handicap parking space.

Letter to the Editor: Celebrating the First Amendment

I haven’t been to a political demonstration in a few years. Having been distressed by the news in recent months, I decided to show up and make a statement with other Bedford citizens in support of the idea that Black lives matter.

Letter to the Editor: In Support of Pods to Support Working Families

Superintendent Conrad’s recent email to Bedford parents referring to so-called “privilege pods” is tone-deaf at best and reprehensible at worst. As concerning is the possibility that this judgmental and narrow mindset is shared by Bedford administrators and certain students may be treated differently or unfairly.

Parents in Bedford and across the country are struggling to do what is best for their families; balancing health, education, caregiving, and careers.

Closed Captioning for Accessibility in Online Meetings

As our communities continue to practice social distancing, more and more of our connections with one another happen over computers.  There is much about this to celebrate – at least we all have ways for meetings to occur; churches can offer Sunday services; and the day-to-day life keeps happening.

A shortfall of using this meeting software (something that most people don’t notice) is that it doesn’t really enable people who have hearing problems to take part.  Since these meeting platforms often don’t provide really simultaneous faces talking and sound, even ‘hearing helps’ like lip reading can’t work.

Letter to the Editor: Supporting Angus McQuilken

I have a confession to make. I haven’t been paying attention to the 2020 elections. This, despite being a self-described political activist. There is just too much going on (#coronavirus) and I know I will vote down party lines. So there I was, sitting down late at night to fill out my mail-in primary ballot, and I filled in the bubble for Seth Moulton without even thinking. Luckily, some synapses fired just in time for me to recognize that there were two other candidates listed. The gears in my head started firing.

OpEd: Families Request Further Consideration of Bedford’s School Reopening Plan

At the School Committee Meeting on August 5, the community comments were dominated by talk of ensuring that remote-only learners are taken care of. We know now that only 20% of students will be in that cohort according to the non-binding survey. We respectfully ask that there be more opportunity afforded to engage with the 80% of families that want in-person learning.

Op Ed: Bedford Education Association Faculty Survey Results

The Bedford Education Association (BEA) has always had a collaborative relationship with school administration and has held our students’ educations at the forefront of our thinking.

In that spirit, the BEA wants to be transparent with the data we have collected from our members and we hope this will help to inform collaborative decisions that are in the best interest of the Bedford educational community.

Editor’s Note: Please click this link to read the detailed survey results, graphics, charts, and tables in the BEA’s survey results.

Op:Ed ~ A Message from Supt. Bradford L. Jackson, Ed.D. on Reopening Shawsheen Valley Technical High School

I am writing to provide you with an update to our planning efforts for the reopening of Shawsheen this fall.  I have been directed by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) to hold off making any formal and final announcement of our plans for reopening until at least Monday, August 10th, but I thought it was important to provide you with some information that might help you as you plan for the return to school.

All school districts in Massachusetts have been instructed to prepare 3 plans for reopening:

Reopen with all students physically attending school while observing required social distancing (Full Open);
A hybrid model where some students physically attend school (observing required social distancing) and the remainder attend school remotely (Hybrid Open); and
A 100% remote learning model with stricter expectations for student performance, participation, and graded work (Remote Open).

As an educator, I see the Remote Open as the least desirable option both from a curriculum/instruction and a social/emotional lens.  However, this decision must be, and will be, made based on student and staff safety, which has been informing all of the guidelines issued by DESE since mid-June.  The directive from DESE is clear: “our goal is the safe return of as many students as possible to in-person school settings, to maximize learning and address our students’ holistic needs.”  Accordingly, we are focusing our efforts on returning “as many students as possible to in-person school settings” and are viewing the 100% remote learning model as an option only if there are significant changes in the progress of the virus here in Massachusetts.