George Bailer testimony transcript from the SRC meeting of April 27, 2017

George Bailer
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Thanks for inviting us to participate in the discussion of helping the SRC achieve its stated vision: “For all children, a great school, close to where they live.” Kudos – it’s a worthy and valiant purpose. The Save Smith School committee also has a vision – “To revitalize cities, one neighborhood at a time,” realizing that cities can’t thrive until each and every neighborhood is stable. Our plan to manifest this vision is a process of education/training, rehabilitation, and community participation and contribution, making neighborhoods self-sustaining.

A French philosopher once said, “it is often difficult to know what is right but always easy to know what is wrong.” The closing and eventual gutting of Smith and other schools which are vital to our city”s neighborhoods is clearly wrong – wrong for our children, our residents, our communities, our values, and ultimately, our future. We mustn’t forget that our public school system, which is under assault from all directions, educated the likes of Steve Jobs, Morgan Freeman, Eddie Murphy, Marian Anderson, and Warren Buffet to name a few, and for future generations represents the hope of achieving “the American Dream.”

Cities built and based on roof decks and tax abatements produce only a short term mirage of success, while lining the pockets of a few. This becomes obvious when we now need to “feed the beast” a 20 year tax abatement. At the heart of any successful long term community is the promise of a good life for all who participate and contribute. A public school, serving a community where students, teachers, and residents share common goals and mutual respect is the beacon of that promise.

Tonight we ask that you tap the brakes, take a deep breath, and contemplate a bigger vision for Smith School. Help us make Smith School an educational facility for all of our residents; a hub where children can grow, adolescents can be tutored, teens looking for hope can be offered an alternative to a system that is failing them, and seniors can share their wisdom and gain a new fervor for life; a facility manned by both professionals and volunteers, and kept up by community members whose mission is to make Point Breeze self-sustaining.

Let’s make this wrong right by offering your stated and sincere apologies to Concordia Development, “We’re sorry, but our hands are tied.”