Candidate Statement From The Amherst Bulletin

Benjamin Herrington: School Committee candidate makes his case

I’m a blue collar single dad with a fifth grader at Crocker Farm and another who attended Amherst Public Schools. I work at Wildwood Elementary School and have also worked at Fort River Elementary School.

Over the years, I have had the privilege of interacting with the great people who make up our school system and the children they serve. To say that I have a vested interest in the progress of our schools would be an understatement; it is my passion.

We need to address the current state of disrepair in our buildings, while finding ways to sustain them in the future. Amherst Regional Public Schools lacks a facilities development policy. If we create a comprehensive policy to continuously improve our schools for the benefit of our students, we can prevent future generations from having to bear the burden of a failure to plan ahead.

We can make budgeting decisions that reflect our values, while also making fiscally responsible decisions. The examples we set for our children; every step, every decision, and every discussion, won’t go unnoticed by them.

We need to be keenly aware of the messages our actions send our students. We face many challenges that will require conversations that reflect multiple different perspectives. Diversity within the makeup of our school committee will help to broaden dialogue and lead us to more well informed conversations.

I am running for school committee to lend my voice and service to our children, their educators, the staff that supports them, and to the town of Amherst as a whole. I offer a different perspective and different life experience, but the same hopes and dreams for our children and the future they will inherit from us.

I humbly ask for your vote on Nov. 5. Thank you.

Ben Herrington

Amherst

 

Meet Ben Herrington 

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Remember to Register to Vote

The deadline to register to vote in the November 5th election, here in Amherst, is this Wednesday, October 16th.

If you aren’t sure if you’re registered, click here. 

If you know you aren’t registered and wish to (you’ll need a driver’s license or a state issued ID) click here. 

For more info about Ben Herrington, Candidate for Amherst School Committee, click here. 

 

Independence

This is my second candidacy for the position of school committee. A little over a year and a half ago, I set out to gain a seat on the school committee. While I didn’t win the election, I found a sense of pride in the fact that I ran as an independent and was able to pull in a number of folks with differing ideologies, different backgrounds, from opposite ends of the political spectrum even. It was important, to me, to focus on the ultimate goal of our school system; the students and families we seek to serve. As I have told my sons, I would rather have lost and maintained my integrity than to have sold out my core beliefs in order to win. 

Thus, I have asked Amherst Forward to remove me from the slate of candidates this PAC has decided to endorse. If any individual or group should see fit to endorse me, I would hope it is because they believe in who I am and what I stand for. I am not now, nor have I ever been, beholden to any particular group or school of thought. I am an independent entity. 

My actual position on solving our schools infrastructure issues can’t be distilled to a single line. I believe that we have to get it right this time and that we need to follow process to ensure that there is a greater consensus than last time around. I don’t believe that we have enough data to make a concrete decision as to what exactly the path forward is. We need to expand the conversations we have, not restrict them to one perspective. Like the superintendent said on March 11th, we still have to “make sure we are exploring multiple options.” Once that process has occurred, we can begin to form a clearer picture of what a new school project would look like. 

Click here for video of 3/11/19 meeting (Mike Morris discusses the MSBA process at 12:00).

 

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Where I Stand on the School Building Issue

The solution to issues regarding the environment our children learn in is complex. So too is my standpoint. While I believe, and can clearly see, that  there is a need to improve our school buildings, I still don’t have all of the information required to hold a firm position on the matter. In keeping with the MSBA reply to our last statement of interest, the solution I seek lies in a consensus that incorporates the broadest swath of viewpoints and has the greatest overall support. There is still a multitude of information  that needs to be taken into account before we push forward with any concrete plans. I wholeheartedly support seeking the financial contribution of MSBA, within their guidelines. I absolutely support the idea that we have to get it right this time. I do not concede to the idea that we have a consensus as to what our final plan will be. I am willing to expand this conversation, so that all parties affected will have satisfactory input on the matter. We are not there yet, but we are well on our way (asking the MSBA for funding is a solid first step in the right direction). My position cannot be distilled into a single sentence, simply because we don’t have all of the data necessary to finalize a plan that exhibits a consensus reached by the necessary public discourse.

I’m Running For School Committee

Yesterday afternoon, I submitted my nomination papers for the office of School Committee. I am committed now, more than ever, to lending my voice to the direction our school system will take moving forward. We need broader conversations that lead to more inclusive outcomes in terms of the policies that guide our schools. Many of the issues that we face will require us to bring a greater swath of perspectives into the fold. It is my most firm belief that I have a great deal to offer those conversations.

I am a father first and foremost. Like any other parent, I have a deep concern for my child’s educational opportunities. As someone who has been directly involved in the lives of, not just my own child, but many students in the school system, I am volunteering my service to the school committee. We can pull together and improve educational outcomes, the environments in which our children learn, and ensure a sustainable future for our great schools. This is my commitment to Amherst. This election, for me, isn’t about just winning a seat, it is about creating meaningful change and supporting the educators, support staff and students of Amherst. We will do that through responsible budgeting (morally and fiscally), enacting sustainable policies that lead to life ready students in an equitable manner, and by holding the superintendent responsible for the guidance of our schools. We can achieve greatness. We owe that to our children and to the future of our town.

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Ben Herrington: Praises African-American Read-In in Amherst

Source Hampshire Gazette: Ben Herrington: Praises African-American Read-In in Amherst

Ben Herrington: Praises African-American Read-In in Amherst

Published: 2/20/2018 5:44:57 PM
Praises African-American Read-In in Amherst 

On Feb. 1, I had the honor of participating in the National Council of Teachers of English-sponsored African-American Read-In at Wildwood Elementary School.

I was invited to read to a class of fifth-grade students and read “Ashanti to Zulu” by Margaret Musgrove. It is a book that is near and dear to me, as it was written by my father’s childhood friend. Not only was there a connection to me, but also to the students. It was written right down the street, at the University of Massachusetts.

This was one of many highlights of a day that celebrated literacy while kicking off Black History Month by engaging students and fostering cultural competency. In 1989, the Black Caucus of the National Council of Teachers of English solidified plans for a national read-in program that would increase literacy among young African-American readers by celebrating literary elements of African-American culture. Not just limited to readings, but also incorporating the arts, the program began in 1990 and continues today.

In Amherst, it was an annual tradition at Mark’s Meadow Elementary School and found its way to Wildwood via Principal Nick Yaffe. This year, along with special guests readers in each classroom, came a touching opening assembly that blended elements of traditional songs with current hits that the students could relate to.

The energy generated from the event crossed all cultural boundaries and was well received by the staff, faculty and student body. In addition to the impressive lineup of guests, the receptiveness of the students was absolutely inspiring.

The value of such a program across the entire district would be well worth the effort. It is a perfect way to kick off Black History Month by celebrating the diversity found within our public schools.

Programs like the African-American Read-In serve as a major educational asset without adversely impacting a school’s budget. The National Council of Teachers of English provides all the resources to get started and no two events need follow the same format. I would love to see more schools in the district take part in the read-in next year.

Ben Herrington

Amherst

The writer is a candidate for Amherst School Committee.