School Isn’t Everything

Once again, thank you for inviting me to post here. I do not have much to post about this month, but hopefully once school is out (in a week) and I come back to Newton full-time, I will have some new ideas.

I was going to make a post about the Charter Commission’s recent recommendation, but I have not been able to follow the their work very closely. I was also going to post about the recent meeting at city hall, which I think was a pretty big embarrassment by all involved parties, including the speakers, elected officials and of course members of the public, but I will stay away from discussing that in detail simply because it has been blown out of proportion. So, all I am left posting about is a little recommendation to the parents and students out there reading this.

I know at this point of the year a lot of students are busy taking the SAT’s, ACT’s or deciding on which college to go to. I also know that in the fall, the whole cycle will start up again and more stress will needlessly, in my opinion, be wasted on testing and homework. Now, what I will not say is that all of this self-imposed stress is unneeded, but what I will say is that as parent and as a student, it gets easier. As Frank Sinatra put it (with a slight twist), “if you can make it through the Newton schools, you can make it anywhere.”

The truth is, almost every kid who lives in Newton and similar communities, already has life set well before they are born. I first realized that when I was in 9th grade and my history teacher said his job was to, “get you guys ready for college.” At first I was a little shocked to hear this, but in all honesty it makes sense.

The point I am trying to convey is that you should not solely worry about grades, college and test results because no matter if you are the best or the worst student, you will be fine. What should students care about? Finding things that interest them and finding a sense of purpose.

Now, I am not saying that there is no room for improvement, because there certainly is. Is spending going up too quickly? Yes. Is the curriculum outdated? Yes. Are drugs an ever-growing problem? Yes. Will I be running for School Committee again next year? haha, just kidding.

What I am saying, and you can value this piece of advise as much as you want, is that school is not the end of the line. There are more important things out there. The only reason, besides the fact that I was asked to post here, that I wrote up this quick post was because I have seen the stress that many Newton parents and students put on themselves and frankly, it is a somewhat shocking.


Here is a cool video on this subject I saw a while back:


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Evan Jacobi

Thanks for posting, Cyrus. The video was certainly thought-provoking, even though I don’t agree with all of it (I would have answered the son’s question “I have no idea, but that’s the way it is”, and exam and education results, while they don’t ‘define’ one, do make a difference for many people with respect to career and future).

I’m glad you didn’t post about the ‘community meeting’, because there’s been enough about it already, and especially because most of what was written was complete b.s. (I was there, and no one was heckled or shut down – ONE person did try to interrupt a speaker; the interrupter was stopped by the rest of the crowd saying “Let her [the speaker] talk!”, and the speaker continued).

I’m attaching a description of the meeting and commentary from the Jewish Journal of the North Shore, which IMHO accurately describes what happened. It’s very different than what was reported in the Globe and elsewhere. (Disclosure: I wrote the editorial).

Thanks again for writing.

Evan Jacobi

Another good perspective on the meeting on today’s Jewish Advocate (attached).

Tom Sheff

Cyrus, great advice and great video,