Sam Yoon's school-committee shimmy



Today's Globe includes a letter to the editor from city councilor/mayoral hopeful Sam Yoon, who claims that a recent editorial misrepresented his position on returning to an elected Boston School Committe:

I want to correct the record from the Globe editorial about Boston's School Committee. I never said we should return to an elected committee, but that it ought to be part of the discussion....

I question whether an appointed school committee can always advocate for wholesale change. We need a school committee that will avoid abuses of the past while bringing accountability and differing viewpoints to our schools. This requires a top-to-bottom examination of the current system.

Until we are satisfied with our schools, we must continue the debate. [all emphasis added]

Now, for the record, here's how the Globe editorial in question characterized Yoon's position on the issue: "Yoon is trying to revive a body also better left to the dustbin of history: the elected School Committee."

And here, finally, is what Yoon himself said in his YouTube campaign announcement:

In order to become the Boston that we know we can be, we have to be willing to face our problems head on, and be willing to be bold, innovative, creative. And we need to talk. We need to talk about what it would mean to go back to an elected school committe [Yoon's emphasis]. At a time when our schools are facing the largest budget shortfall they've ever seen, we have to question whether an appointed school committee--appointed solely by the mayor--can truly be the educational advocates we need them to be.

So, did the original Globe editorial get it wrong? I don't think so. Yoon's announcement makes it sound like, in his estimation, returning to elected school committee would probably be a good move. Then, when the Globe took this possibility seriously, Yoon backed off, saying he only thinks that an elected school committee might be smart--and that discussing this possibility is the really important thing.

My guess is that Yoon thinks voters will see his Linda Richman approach as a refreshing alternative to Tom Menino's M.O. Of course, it's also a handy way to avoid taking actual stands ("I didn't say we should do X, just that we should talk about doing X").

Here's some free advice: Sam, figure out what kind of school committee you want, and then tell us. Unless you can describe your own positions clearly, you can't expect anyone else to.

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