Martyn brings passion for social justice in run for school seat

Your Arlington

Created: 29 February 2020 | Last Updated: 04 April 2020 | Written by various sources | 

Lynette Martyn, School Committee candidate, 2020 photoMartyn

Lynette Martyn, newly seeking one of three seats on the School Committee, became a familiar voice on social media last year, expressing sharp concerns that Arlington officials take further action to address racist published comments by a town police officer.

Martyn’s passion for social justice has earlier roots. She says on her campaign website: “My vision for Arlington Public Schools (APS) is informed by the mission of the Diversity and Inclusion Groups (DIGs), which I helped found.”

Here are her answers to queries asked of all who take out papers. They have been edited:

Q: In general, why are you seeking this seat?

Running for School Committee was something I had imagined doing in the future, just not this year. My plan this year was to run for Town Meeting. When the School Committee opportunity opened up, I spent weeks identifying and encouraging local activists and leaders who support diversity and inclusion to run, but no one could commit this year. The silver lining was that the more I spoke to others about the importance of this position, the more I realized that I have a voice and a message I want to share with the community, that this is the
role for me and this is the time.

Q: What specific qualifications do you have that support your candidacy?

Since well before my sons started school, I’ve been engaged in fostering diversity and inclusion in the Arlington public schools. In 2018, I founded Arlington’s DIGs, which are active in all of our elementary and middle schools, in order to prepare our children to be successful in an increasingly diverse world. The DIGs run autonomously at each school, providing a space for parents, caregivers, students and educators to collaborate on ways to make our schools safe and welcoming learning spaces for all our children and their families, inclusive of all identities. I am an active member of Arlington’s Diversity Task Group and have served on the Superintendent’s Diversity Advisory Committee for four years. Additionally, I was selected to participate in the initial Arlington High School Building Planning Committee for the rebuild project.My professional background bridges experience in both education and business. I am a certified teacher of English as a foreign language and spent several years in Japan teaching public elementary and junior high school. When I returned, I pursued my MBA with a focus on communications and project management. After a career in finance, I shifted my focus back to what I really loved, education. First, I served as the director of a nonprofit that trains teachers in early childhood literacy, and then I worked at the Harvard School of Public Health as the director of marketing for continuing-education programs. In both of these roles, I reaffirmed my strong belief in data-driven decision making.I believe my experience working with business leaders, administrators, teachers, parents and students will serve the School Committee and our students and families well.

Q: What are the key issues you see facing the School Committee?

Through my work in APS, the most frequent concerns I hear from parents, teachers, and staff are regarding the need to improve transparency and communication, close the disparity gaps, hire and retain diverse staff, and build equitable schools with engaged parents. From Arlington’s older and low-income community members, I hear their very real concern about their rising tax burden to support APS. If elected, I promise to not only continue to listen to these stakeholder groups but to actively pursue policies that address these concerns.The most pressing concern to me is the disparity gap. In the state’s 2019 annual accountability survey, Arlington’s overall score was just 71 percent, and for the subgroup “special education,” we scored only 51 percent – which is last relative to comparable districts. These students include all children with individual education plans and represent 15 percent of the student population. Our economically disadvantaged kids did not fare much better, scoring only 59 percent. Our graduation rates, MCAS scores and student discipline data all show a significant disparity for our students of color, English language learners, economically disadvantaged students, and students with disabilities.

When comparing the experience of black to white students in APS, black students, as a group, not only score lower on MCAS, but are disciplined at a rate 11 times higher. Additionally, the percentage of our student population that identify as people of color is 30 percent. However, less than 10 percent of our educators identify as people of color. In some of our schools containing the highest percentage of students of color, those teacher percentages are closer to 5 percent. It is well researched and documented that kids need to be able to see themselves reflected in their teachers and administrators in order to visualize their own potential. To ensure equal educational outcomes and to address the disparity gaps in our school system, we need to provide our students with role models who can identify with our students’ cultures and experiences. We must do better.

Q: What personal background can you provide?

For fun, I enjoy clamming on the Cape, going to the theater, eating and cooking, making bucket lists, and goofing around with my kids. I spend a lot of time volunteering in the schools and community organizing. While this may not sound like fun to everyone, it is something I thrive on, especially when it involves working with kids.

I love all things Japanese, from sushi and sake to flower arranging and taiko drumming. My family enjoys exploring Menotomy Rocks Park, flying kites at Robbins Farm Park, biking the Minuteman bike trail and grabbing a slice at Otto’s before watching a movie at the Capitol
Theatre.

Some of my favorite Arlington memories include teaching my kids how to swim at the Res, my wedding proposal at Spy Pond, snuggling up and reading with my kids at the Robbins and Fox libraries, dancing with my family at Karen K concerts, and my children’s dedication ceremonies at First Parish church. I love our town. Fun fact: I used to be a licensed New York City tour guide.

Her campaign website at www.electlynette.com 

ACMi profile >>

Opposition

Incumbents for School Committee seeking three-year terms are Bill Hayner and Paul Schlichtman. The third seat is held by an incumbent is Jennifer Susse, who is not seeking reelection.

The other new candidate is Elizabeth Exton.


This news summary was published Saturday, Feb. 29, 2020. All potential candidates in the April election have been asked a similar set of questions. All responses received will be edited and published in YourArlington.com.