Tuesday, October 25, 2011

To the Editor: They're All Our Kids

To the Editor of the Needham Times:

The October 20, 2011 edition of the Needham Times reported on the concern a few Newman parents have expressed over the transportation of their Kindergarteners on a combined bus in the afternoon from the Pollard modular classrooms to the Newman campus.

The bus, which first makes a run to each elementary school to pick up our Boston resident students, is successfully being deployed to make an additional stop at Pollard to shuttle and drop off Newman’s Kindergarteners to Newman before it takes the remaining students home to Boston. The use of this bus to shuttle Newman’s Kindergarteners is convenient, cost effective, and safe. Despite some logistical challenges on both campuses this fall, we have worked to ensure student safety and provide an efficient transportation plan for all students. I want to take this opportunity to thank our Newman families for their patience and cooperation as we strive to make each day smoother for their children.

I want to express my disappointment, however, at the one or two parents quoted in the article whose comments and language suggest that Newman Kindergarteners are somehow placed in an untenable situation with other Needham elementary students on the brief bus ride to Newman. That is simply not the case. I am particularly concerned about the comment: “I don’t know these children. They’re not my neighborhood kids. I don’t know what their conversations would be, and I’m not ready for my child to be exposed to that.” As reported, this comment reveals more about the parent’s own fears and prejudices than it does about the reality of a seven-minute ride on a bus, which happens to be filled with exceptional young people from our elementary schools.

The comment also is clearly not representative of other Newman parents who, like parents throughout Needham, value diversity and a sense of community that supports strong and enduring friendships between and among all students regardless of the school they attend or the neighborhood—Needham or Boston—in which they live.

Indeed, this short hop from Pollard to Newman will provide a wonderful opportunity in the coming months for Needham Public School elementary students to get a chance to learn and care about one another. That’s really what we want our children exposed to.


Daniel Gutekanst
Needham Public Schools


  1. Bravo! I, too, was embarrassed for my town when I read that.

  2. It's wonderful that Dr. Gutekanst made a formal statement. We as a community can't stand by silently and allow bigotry to gain a foothold!

  3. Beautifully said. Thank you.

  4. Kudos Dr. Gutekanst. Thank you for addressing such negativity with so much dignity.

  5. I am proud that our School Superintendent values every Needham student, regardless of what neighborhood they live in. Thank you for your response to the parents of Newman at Pollard kindergarteners whose complaints to the Needham Times appear to be racially motivated.

  6. Thank you for addressing this issue publicly and directly.

  7. Thanks for speaking up - it shows strong leadership and alignment to district goals:)

  8. Thank you. Needham parents seem to be ignorant and self centered. Give me a break.

  9. Amen, Dan.

    Didn't take much reading between the lines to see that these parents were basically saying "I don't want my kids on a bus with black people." Sorry lady, your kids are eventually going to leave Needham and realize that the whole world isn't white. Thank goodness your child goes to a school system that is diverse and values respect, because they're obviously not learning anything about respect from you.

  10. Thank you deeply, Dr. Gutekanst, for your leadership in making a formal statement on this important issue. As a Newman parent, I was appalled and disgusted when I read the article about the Newman buses and the quotes from some parents. Thank you for calling this out to those who may have missed it. We are 1 Needham community regardless of your home zip code. We value the commitment to diversity that Needham has been bringing to the schools for decades. Thanks again.