Growth needs to reach Western Mass

Photo from Wikimedia Commons. Pittsfield's North Street, like many places in Western Mass., has not seen the same level of development found in the state's eastern end.

I’ve lived in Massachusetts my whole life. And despite how people make annoying generalizations about it, I do love the Bay State. This was the state where the American Revolution started, the first black military regiment, and the first state to legalize same-sex marriage. Heck, I live next to the town where the Toll House cookie was invented. But after attending school in North Adams, I’ve noticed a significant difference in the move. 

Every time I read an article online that talks about education in the United States, Massachusetts has led the nation in the field. However, there has been a contradiction to the claim when you look west of Boston. There are at least four public schools in North Adams, and the number of students enrolled have been declining in recent years. I also have a friend who is both a teacher and mother, who has told me that her daughter’s school’s budget has been taking hits in recent years. Meanwhile in my hometown, the budget for the school district is easily covered. With the reputation that Massachusetts has as a leader in education, it should be a priority to bring the more rural west to the same caliber as the eastern side of the Commonwealth.

In the last few years, the ongoing opioid epidemic has spread across the county. And among the parts of the country, Massachusetts has been hit the hardest. I remember seeing countless stories about overdoses from heroin and fentanyl. This past summer, my dad’s acquaintance died from an overdose. And while there have been reports of the effect that opioids have in my hometown and the surrounding cities and towns, the effects of the epidemic are more prominent in Western Massachusetts. I can remember seeing countless reports of drug busts and hearing about the overdoses in the Berkshires. This is an even bigger issue with the nearest hospital being a half hour away. In contrast, the chance that someone who overdoses in Eastern Massachusetts are more likely to get the necessary treatment more easily than someone who lives in a rural area like the Berkshires.

Throughout the country’s history, Massachusetts has been a leader in historical and social change. However, the state’s growth needs to go beyond Boston, the Cape, and eastern side of the Commonwealth. And it is imperative to level out the standing of the western part of the state to its eastern counterpart.