Candidate Statement: Rick O'Neill, Shawsheen Tech School Committee
The candidate statement of Rick O'Neill, candidate for a seat on the Shawsheen Tech School Committee.
We live in an increasingly complex world, dominated by a global economy that continues to siphon jobs away from American workers. Wages are down and good-paying jobs are scarce, while, at the same time, employers continue to have difficulty finding qualified job candidates. It is critically important that we provide ALL of our children with appropriate “pathways to success” and prepare them with high-quality career skills to qualify them for the most desirable job opportunities.
One of the best ways to teach these most critical skills is through our Vocational / Technical schools, and Tewksbury is fortunate to have partnered with one of the most highly-rated “voc-tech” schools in the Commonwealth. Shawsheen Tech boasts outstanding overall achievement results in multiple disciplines. Since its creation in 1970 “the Tech” has consistently provided its students with a quality educational path to gainful employment, and today, it continues to prepare today’s students to work in new and emerging occupations. In recent years, though, it has come to my attention that a growing number of Tewksbury students, who need and desire a vocational / technical education, have been denied admission to Shaw Tech. As former chairperson of the Tewksbury School Committee, I was approached on a number of occasions by anxious parents who were extremely disturbed because the most appropriate career path option for their children was closed. I subsequently learned that the Tech had changed its criteria for admissions such that many students who are late bloomers or have had limited or moderate academic success are no longer likely to be accepted to the Tech. And since Tewksbury High School (in order to avoid duplication of costs) has eliminated most vocational courses, these unfortunate students, are, in effect, “left behind”. This is just not right. We need to provide these students with the opportunity to succeed. Shaw Tech is doing a great job, but in this one area, it is not doing the job we asked them to do.
So the debate has now begun. How best will we as parents, educators and responsible citizens rise to meet the challenge to resolve, in the best interests of ALL of our children, the multiple, academic, vocational and financial conflicts that have surfaced and will continue to surface as a consequence of these recent policy changes. These challenges are daunting in scope. However, I believe they are resolvable, and I believe that I have the educational, professional, and civic experiences needed to assist in the successful resolution of these difficult matters.
I have been a resident of Tewksbury since 1976, when my wife Janice and I moved here with our three young children, who were all educated in the Tewksbury school system and went on to college and graduate school. I have been an active member of the community ever since, serving as a member of the:
- Tewksbury Finance Committee
- Secondary School Building Committee
- Police Station Building Committee
- Library Building Committee;
- Tewksbury School Committee, serving two separate terms and serving as Chairperson on both occasions.
- Tewksbury Youth Baseball Association as a Coach, Manager, Clerk, Equipment Agent, Director, President, and District 14 Assistant Administrator;
- Tewksbury Redmen Football Club and as past Trustee of the Tewksbury Redmen Football Club Scholarship Foundation.
My educational background includes the following:
- Salem State College, BS in Education,
- New England School of Law, Juris Doctor, Cum Laude
I have held the following professional positions:
- Teacher and Coach at Reading Memorial High School;
- Connecticut Education Association, Labor Relations Consultant;
- Massachusetts Teachers Association, Government and Labor Relations Consultant;
- Law Office of O’Neill & Gramer, P.C., Attorney
I believe that my extensive background professionally, educationally and in community service provide me with a good foundation to serve effectively on the Shawsheen Tech School Committee. Going forward, we must provide the best educational opportunity possible to ALL of our students while seeking resolution of the challenges that must be acted on now to secure their future.
I ask for your support and counsel, and your vote on April 6th. Please vote Rick O’Neill for Shawsheen Tech School Committee. Thank you.