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This is a guest column from the candidate.  All candidates are welcome to submit a single guest column between now and Aug 1

From Newtonville to Lower Falls, this campaign cycle has truly started off with a bang as I personally have knocked on over 1,000 doors across the Garden City. Residents have been more than happy to talk, including the Houghteling family (pictured), the son being a former teacher and the mother being a longtime Newton resident, who invited me into their home. Below are a few of the prominent themes that emerged when I have knocked on residents’ doors:

  1. “Why you? Why now?” Almost everybody on the campaign trail wants to know why I am running for office, for it is intriguing that a 20 year old would run for a citywide office that is generally dominated by those a few decades my senior. Like I told Marcia Cooper, President of Green Newton, just the other day: I graduated from Newton North two years ago, and I know there is a great need for next generation leadership to help solve many of the most pressing issues. College has kept me local and I would regret it if I did not offer to give back.
  1. “Will later start times happen?” Those with students in the schools are usually the most vocal on this issue. I tell all residents that back in 2015 I personally proposed, “flipping the start times (having elementary schools start first, high schools start later) (go to 16:30 to see me discuss it)”. As a former student, it seemed like the obvious and much needed change. As noted by leading doctors, starting school later specifically for high school students leads to, “better grades, higher standardized test scores and an overall better quality of life.” Flipping the start times is an urgent policy for implementation. Our students in their formative teenage years deserve this policy change.

However, I am also honest with any resident who brings up this issue. The current School Committee has delayed any change for a minimum of two years, and I do not see any reason that the new School Committee would change this issue without an enormous showing of support from parents and students alike (hint, hint).  We can lead on this together.

  1. “If elected, what would your number one goal on the School Committee be?” Mandatory basic financial literacy classes for all students. Period. When a student graduates from high school, while they must have learned about the Siege of Detroit (1812), they do not have to know what a credit card is or how to balance a checkbook. As I was discussing with Boston College Finance Professor, Newton resident and campaign supporter Jeffrey Pontiff recently, the finance departments at both high schools are world class, but unless a student voluntarily signs up for their classes, they can graduate high school missing this essential content. In the 21st century, learning about different types of student loans and planning for financial stability should be required knowledge, not an elective.

Please feel free to visit my website and check out what I believe are pressing issues in the school system. As always, I encourage you to give me a call at (617)-823-2556 if you have any questions, comments or ideas, or send me an email at ([email protected]). I hope to meet all of you whether it is on the trail, at the Cabot Fair, or at Newton Highlands Village Day. I also keep a Facebook page and an email list up-to-date. One final note: If you support my campaign and would like a campaign T-shirt, I am happy to send you one (while supplies last!).

Thank you to Mr. Reibman & the V14 bloggers for curating this forum and welcoming my post. And fear not, I will be writing more posts over at NewtonForum and may even return with a campaign video! For now, I am off to Waban, Nonantum, and all the villages of Newton in the weeks ahead to talk with more voters!

United We Stand,

Cyrus Vaghar

School Committee Candidate, Ward 2

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