Constructive school conversation

To the Editor:

At the St. Johnsbury School Board meeting on May 19, I was heartened by the tone of healthy discussion and respectful disagreement. The exchange of views was distinctly constructive compared to much of what has taken place recently in public meetings, editorial comments, letters to the editor, and on social media. The debate over district school funding will not be productive if teachers and school board members are maligned, if the town newspaper is continually slammed, or if residents concerned about taxes are accused of not caring for our children. As the closing comment in the CR's May 16 editorial asserted: we need to be tolerant of dissenting opinions and show respect for those who disagree with us.

When Ben Franklin signed the Declaration of Independence, he noted: "We must all hang together or we will surely hang separately." St. Johnsbury faces a multitude of real challenges. We cannot constructively address these challenges if we separate into factions and call each other names. We need instead to listen carefully and work cooperatively. Only by seeking common approaches through reasonable compromise can we craft solutions that will make our town a stronger and better place to live--both for ourselves and for the next generation of our citizens.

Margaret Ranny Bledsoe

St. Johnsbury, Vt.

School superintendent

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