Depicting students as first and second class learners is detrimental


Published: 02/21/2022 18:00:30

Modified: 02/21/2022 18:00:11

Editor’s Note: This letter was sent to the Northampton School Board after its meeting on February 10.

We are the Department Heads and Associate Heads of Northampton High School. As professional educators, we strongly believe in the positive potential of every student who walks through our halls, and we believe in the right of every student to be treated with respect and to engage in a meaningfully rigorous and nurturing education in order to so that he can better carry out his individual task. potential.

At the Northampton School Committee meeting on February 10, member Michael Stein expressed concern about the potential negative effects he assumes an honors program integrated into secondary school lessons could have on pupils. Member Stein wondered what effect there might be on students by having “second class learners alongside first class learners”.

The Department Chairs and Associate Principals of Northampton High School recognize that Member Stein’s remark may stem from a concern for student welfare, and we share a desire to be considerate of all student stakeholders when program decisions are made.

However, Member Stein’s use of the terms “first-class learners” and “second-class learners” is not only inaccurate, but extremely disrespectful and prejudicial to students. We are surprised and concerned that no member of the school committee has denounced the language of member Stein during this meeting. Given the school board’s stated value of inclusiveness and its goal of fostering an anti-biased approach to education, it’s alarming that no one else spoke up.

We hope to move forward respectfully with all school committee members in a way that reflects integrity, respectful care for all students, and a desire for positive change.

We believe that this way forward must begin with a public statement from the School Board to students in the Northampton School District that (1) apologizes for the use of the terms “First Class Learners” and “Second Class Learners” and (2) recognizes that no designation of “first-class learners” and “second-class learners” can exist in an impartial and effective education.

We look forward to a collaborative and productive future with the Northampton School Board.


Meghan Harrison

Principal Partner

Karen Hidalgo

President of the orientation department

Jamie Laurent

world language
Department President

Louise Martindel

Fine and performing arts
Department President

Carl Mead

Chairman of the English Department

Dan Moylan

Chair of the Science Department

Anis Schardl

Chairman of the Mathematics Department

Kara Sheridan

Principal Partner

Liz Skelley

special education
Department President

Sue Sullivan

English language
learning teacher

Jerome Whalen

Chairman of the Technology Department


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