Letter: A new building won’t fix everything

Posted 10/12/23

After we raze it, do we really need to build another high school?

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Letter: A new building won’t fix everything


To the editor:

While I’m already visualizing myself driving the first dozer that rips into my beloved alma mater, not even I am so overeager as to forgo the most important question, hitherto unbroached, about Mt. Hope’s future. After we raze it, do we really need to build another high school?

Perkins Eastman can sell their design to T.F. Green for a terminal or to Hasbro as a puzzle; it’s not a patch on stately Colt or Guiteras, or asbestic Walley. However, I’m not suggesting we end any elementary programs to rehouse high-schoolers in those buildings. I don’t know if Colt Andrews or Guiteras is performing highly enough, as Reynolds’ Arts Magnet did, to earn disbandment.

But if there’s anything we learned during the pandemic—and it isn’t how rapidly people will trade in their rights for promises of safety, nor how quiet Democrat legislators get when Democrat executives overreach—it’s that teenagers can sleep through class over zoom as ably as in school.

There is no reason to erect another building, especially if it won’t be beautiful, unless the district can offer something inside it that students can’t get outside it. For the society of their peers, our teens have wherever the current party scene convenes (the Teeps are no more, alas); for general or expert input on any subject, they have the internet; for the learned opinions of their teachers, most major broadcast networks.

Consider the following college essay questions:

One. Should nimbyists from Martha’s Vineyard, Chicago, NYC or D.C. who call their areas “sanctuary destinations” until Govs. Greg Abbot and Doug Ducey bus in the hordes, be allowed to set the moral tone for our national conversation about illegal immigration?

Two. Given the persistence of generational poverty in major cities despite all the available amenities including e-bikes, college libraries, free ESL workforce programs and some of the most lavishly-funded public schools, what advantage does the Department of Housing and Urban Development seek on behalf of the poor by requiring more low-income, high-density housing in the suburbs?

Three. If J6 protestors have been sentenced to at least a year in prison for one count of “obstruction of an official proceeding,” how long a sentence can we expect Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-NY) to serve for pulling a fire alarm to delay a vote on the latest spending bill?

The answers to these questions are, of course, glaringly obvious. That said, I think our departing seniors would struggle to answer them without sounding like their teachers. (And their teachers, in turn, sound like their education professors.)

The education system might by accident develop an independent and resourceful mind; but if any time is wasted on trifles like “DEI,” “identifying misinformation,” or “neutralizing hate speech,” our students aren’t likely to get one even in a new building.

Zachary Cooper
48A Sherman Ave.

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Jim McGaw

A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.