Berlinsky: 'Race to Top' Reforms Need Close Monitoring
Commercial real estate attorney Joshua Berlinsky, a Democratic candidate for School Committee, also champions a 'mentorship' program for students.
Three candidates covet the vacant Barrington School Committee seat that is up for grabs in the Jan. 18 special election.
Democrat Joshua Berlinsky faces off against Republican Chris Ramsden and an independent, Joel Hellmann. The voters' choice will join two Republicans and two Democrats on the School Committee and, therefore, could be the swing vote for a new chairman if members follow the party line when the board reorganizes after the special election.
Introductory looks at the candidates are running in Patch this week. Here is a look at Berlinsky, a commercial real estate attorney.
Joshua A. Berlinsky moved with his wife and two children, a son and a daughter, to Barrington about 4½ years ago. His son is in kindergarten and his daughter is in third grade at Sowams Elementary School.
Berlinsky has been a partner with the DarrowEverett law firm of Providence and Boston for four years. The Chicago-area native earned his law degree from Northwestern University in 1997. He is a graduate of Colgate University in New York.
Berlinsky and his wife came to Barrington "in large part for the excellent school system," he said. "We both feel we should give something back to the town."
For the most part, the attorney said, Barrington has a really "positive educational environment."
"I'm appreciative of everything Barrington has to offer," he said. "And I feel like I would be a good fit on the School Committee…with a lot of ideas that can contribute to the process."
In particular, Berlinsky said, he believes that his expertise in commercial real estate can make a significant contribution to the discussion of what to do with the Barrington Middle School.
"I think I can offer informed advice," he said.
Berlinsky does have some concern about the educational reforms tied into the federal Race to the Top program, particularly an emphasis on standardized testing.
"There is really no guidance on how these reforms will work after being implemented," he said. "I think a lot of monitoring is necessary" and "controls need to be in place."
Berlinsky said that Barrington actually is in a unique position because many of the reforms are already in place.
At the same time, though, Berlinsky said, "we must listen to the students and the faculty" to make sure the schools are offering a well-rounded curriculum that is not just linked to standardized assessments of student performance and common reforms touted by educational bureaucrats in Washington.
"Is that what's best for the students?" he said. "Are we aware of all the ramifications?"
Berlinsky said that the school department also should take advantage of Barrington's "diverse professional class" through developing a mentorship program.
"We are fortunate to have that in town," he said of the mix of professionals that call Barrington home. "We should take advantage of that."
Berlinsky said that he enjoys talking to students and advising them on career options and college choices. He believes mentors can be a rich source of information and guidance for students.
"I think it would take just a little bit of organization to do that," he said.