Meet Eric Machado
MIDDLEBORO — In his 18 years working as a police officer, Eric Machado said he has spent 90 percent of his time listening.
That experience taught him that “people just want to be heard.’’
He plans to bring a listening ear to the role of School Committee member. “If elected, I’m there to serve the people,’’ he said. “I listen to people and their concerns.’’
Not all parents have had a sympathetic ear from the School Committee, he said.
He said he saw this during the pandemic. At one meeting, he said, about 80 to 90 parents opposed the mandatory mask policy but the School Committee was not responsive to their concerns.
“They just didn’t seem like…they wanted to alleviate the issue,’’ he said. “It didn’t seem like people were heard. Communication is a concern.’’
His interest in potentially serving on the School Committee “snowballed’’ from there, he said.
He questioned the response that the schools were mandated to follow state directives. He noted that the town is currently fighting the state’s call to allow thousands of potential new housing units near the MBTA train station.
“Sometimes we have to push back on what the state says. Parents need that voice.’’
He described growth as a major issue facing the schools. The newly constructed high school is already at capacity, he noted, and he suspects that more babies were born during the Covid era that will also add to the school system population going forward.
He plans to bring a “hard-nosed, common-sense approach’’ to “the balancing act’’ between providing the best possible education while recognizing that “money doesn’t grow on trees,’’ especially in a time when people are struggling financially due to inflation and other financial conditions.
On the issue of banning books, he said that parents play an important role in deciding what their children should read.
“If books are a concern to parents, they have every right to express these concerns,’’ he said.
Although parents have the right to “opt out’’ of their children reading certain books. Machado would prefer the opposite.
“I’d rather that parents get all the information about a book and then opt in’’ if they support their child reading the material, “versus already opting in even if they don’t know about the book.’’
He said he supports the importance of “social/emotional learning,’’ which some educators have said should be a priority as students struggle with mental health issues in the wake of the pandemic. “We have to be supporting each individual student’s needs.’’
But he is “wary’’ of some aspects, he said. He said he doesn’t want this type of learning to “overshadow academics within our schools.’’
He also notes that his experience as a police officer provides him with experience and resources to support school safety initiatives. “I hope the superintendent would ask for my input and my help.’’
As the father of two students in elementary school and a toddler, Machado said he is “just an everyday father and husband’’ who wants to serve the community. “I’m an honest, genuine man.’’