Reasons to Run
I have decided to run for my third term on the School Board. I believe there are three critical areas the School Board must consider in the coming years:
1. Supporting our application to become an International Baccalaureate School is crucial. If our students are to succeed in their future careers they will need a deeper education, more rigorous studies, greater critical thinking skills and the ability to examine and defend their knowledge. We not only have to support IB but also continue to support Pre-K for all students. We also need to continually assess our K-12 curriculum, not just for those who go on to higher studies but for all students. The ability to research, synthesize, and communicate is just as important for carpenters as it is for scientists.
2. The Proposed Budget this year does not exceed the tax cap due to the hard work, thoughtful planning, and cost savings captured by our administrators. They have pared our costs to the bone. As we look to the future, the only savings we can expect are our increasing labor costs. We have worked very hard to avoid layoffs and to keep programs in place during difficult financial circumstances. We should start an honest discussion about our labor agreements, now, in order to preserve and improve what we have. I suggest we begin by educating the public and our hard working employees about the difficulties and complications regarding employee contracts. We have long standing promises and commitments to teachers and support staff and we need to appeal for their co-operation in this shared financial crisis. We should clearly explain and honestly discuss the true cost of benefits such as retirement, medical insurance, social security contributions, automatic yearly step increases, negotiated annual increases and column advances for professional development. Only by educating our community and our staff can we then speak honestly to each other about our labor costs and the long term implications for our financial stability. Currently the New York State Teacher’s Union does not agree to open discussion and that causes unnecessary hostility. I believe transparency is the way to come together as a community with a solution that is fair for all. We like to say “its for the students.” But it’s also about the taxpayers. If we fail to show the taxpayers we spend their tax money wisely we will lose their support, and that will surely lead to reduced educational outcomes.
3. Accountability and transparancy have been a cornerstone of my last six years. There should be no back room deals. The BOE should discuss its concerns in the light of day in order to be held accountable. It’s not always comfortable, but required by law and ultimately strengthens the fabric of our community. Even if we do not agree with each other, at least we should know where each of us stand. And that is a good place to start the process of consensus where we are more likely to find success rather than polarized positions. I have championed consensus building for six years and will continue to promote its benefits.
I believe deeply in our school and our students’ futures. In moving toward excellence, our community needs to build on its past successes. I am proud to be part of the last six years and would like to contribute to our success for the next three years.
To the Editor:
The current political dysfunction that plagues our nation’s capital and our culture is well chronicled in the documentary film “Patriocracy’ that was recently screened at the Bay Street Theatre in Sag Harbor. While there are a variety of explanations for the deterioration of our abilities to reach political consensus, the corrosive role of money in politics rises above all others. Congress is dependent upon the funders, not the voters. As a result, the broad public interest is seldom represented by a narrow political class that populates both political parties, and our elected officials are not free to lead. There is hope for change, however – and New Yorkers can light a beacon for the rest of the nation to follow in the coming weeks by working to pass significant campaign reform.
Governor Andrew Cuomo has indicated strong support for a system of public funding of elections, and New York legislative leaders will soon introduce a package of reforms in Albany that includes this important change. A diverse coalition that includes organizations such as the League of Women Voters of New York State, Citizen Action of New York, and the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU are leading this effort, including a large number of business and civic leaders from across the state organized under the banner of NY Leadership for Accountable Government (NY LEAD).
The notion of public funding of elections on the state level is not a theoretical exercise, as this system is operating effectively in New York City and is quite popular among voters there. Under this system of small donor financing, candidates are rewarded for spending time and effort talking with constituents, not large campaign donors and special interests. From a constitutional standpoint, small donor public financing expands the number of people that participate in the political process, both as candidates and contributors. It is a “more speech” approach that cherishes the first amendment of the U.S. constitution.
It is important for eastern Long Island residents to contact their Assembly members and State Senators and urge them to support this approach to an urgently needed improvement in democracy and truly representative government. New Yorkers have often been the engine of innovation for our nation, and can lead the way once again. The time is now.
National Field Director
Americans for Campaign Reform
Americans for Campaign Reform is chaired by former US Senators Bill Bradley (D-NJ), Bob Kerrey (D-NE), Alan Simpson (R-WY) and Warren Rudman (R-NH)