Letter: Science, not demagogues

To the Editor:

A small, insistent segment of the community has staked out an irrational position that disregards the strong, scientifically-based medical consensus for healthy school start times.

The small size and limited influence of the opponents were clearly exposed in the results of the November 2017 local election and the spring 2018 budget referendum. Both followed BOE’s fall 2017 decision to implement healthy start times. Six BOE seats were elected in November 2017. No candidate who opposed healthy start times was elected, but all 5 winning candidates (one of whom won two seats) had either voted in favor of implementation or had spoken in support during the campaign.

Likewise, despite concerted calls to reject BOE’s 2018/19 budget in protest against healthy start times, that budget was approved by voters in the spring 2018 referendum with higher voter participation and a substantially higher margin than in the prior year. Thus, despite opponents’ loud, continuous efforts, legally and methodologically valid majorities of Ridgefield voters elected candidates and approved a budget in support of implementing healthy start times for 2019.

I urge the Board of Education (BOE) to resist the opposition’s demagoguery. While making every effort to mitigate impositions on the community and minimize cost, BOE must adhere to science, reason and evidence in implementing policy. BOE should actively refute efforts to deny medical consensus or to create false perceptions of scientific controversy where none exists.

By reiterating the reasons for implementing healthy start times, citing the overwhelming medical consensus, and referencing the successful experiences of other school districts, BOE can successfully implement healthy start times in fall 2019 with the majority support of the community as so clearly demonstrated in the 2017 local election and 2018 budget referendum.

Alex Harris

Christopher Road, Nov. 26

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