Thoughts from my kitchen table

Thoughts from my kitchen table

August 28, 2019

It is stated that,

Education is knowledge acquired in formal learning environments. Intelligence is that actual ability to learn, to acquire, assimilate, and use new knowledge.

There has been discussion and speculation regarding my educational background. Now seems like a good time to put those misconceptions to rest.

But first, I would like to state that my opponent’s education credentials are quite extraordinary and should be celebrated.  Education is a cornerstone of our country and should never be diminished.

Personally, I am a proud graduate of Norwood High School Class of 1989. (I will be attending my 30th HS reunion in October!)

I earned an Associate’s Degree from Massachusetts Bay Community College in Business Management with a minor in Retail. Additionally, I have taken several courses on my way to a Bachelor’s Degree.

I have had the honor to be elected and serve on the Attleboro Municipal Council for the past 3 terms. I feel it is reasonable to equate the last six years of hard work, dedication and time to a master’s degree in Municipal Government. The vast institutional knowledge and willingness to share has helped educate me so I understand the inner workings of the City of Attleboro.

In addition to my formal and informal education, I was a school bus driver for eleven years. I am raising 3 hardworking children. I continue to managed a hugely successful farmers market for the better part of the last 10 years, where I have learned how to run an organization focused on attracting small businesses as well as the consumers that drive them, skills certainly useful considering the current state of our downtown.

I do not make it a practice to judge or evaluate people based on their educational level or a degree they have achieved. Education does not equal intelligence. In my life I am surrounded by many individuals who have a have a string of letters after their name, and many who don’t.  Both have been successful in providing exceptional lives for themselves and their families. Many of these hard-working individuals are the most intuitive and brilliant people around. I have nothing but true respect for them.

There has been a substantial discussion on social media about my education and somehow equating it to a lack of intelligence or ineptitude. It has been stated repeatedly that I didn’t graduate high school, that I “only have a GED”, that I’m stupid and I’m only qualified for what was described as a low-level position at the bus company. It is truly disturbing. So, as I tend to do, I ruminate on the effects of those words. I find myself flooded with emotions which quickly turns to disgust with a splash of fury.  I think about how others might feel when they read posts whose intent is to shame and intimidate based on the simple elitist notion that educated=qualified. There is no thought given to who may identify with these words. For the past several years I have attended the Commencement ceremony for the Attleboro Community Academy.  ACA is a Massachusetts state accredited high school diploma program, independent from Attleboro High School, which provides an alternative path to graduation for struggling students and high school dropouts from Attleboro and the surrounding communities. It is the most uplifting event I attend all year. I recognize that many these students are highly intelligent and capable. They have learned life skills many of us will never have to tap into. Many had no choice.

So what happens when these comments are shared and posted over and over? It divides our city. It puts all our residents in separate boxes. The haves and the have nots. The smart and the dumb. The educated vs. intelligent. The words reinforce an idea to many that they are not good enough, lack intelligence, and shouldn’t strive for their dreams and goals…  and heaven help you if you want to be the Mayor for the City of Attleboro.

For much of my life I have been underestimated. In many ways that notion is a fuel that keeps me striving for more and gives me the motivation to accomplish my goals.

All I have to say to those who find themselves in the same boat as me: be open, keep learning, keep working, you may not get there the first time, but keep grinding. Never lose focus. You’ve got this. I’ve got your back.

And to the ones who judge and criticize, never underestimate the passion, drive and desire someone has to attain their goals and dreams.

In other words: Tell me I can’t, and I will show you exactly how I can. CHALLENGE ACCEPTED.