Dear NYS Politicians:
I write to you today first as a taxpayer and a registered voter, second as an educator. As a property taxpayer in both Erie and Cattaraugus counties and a wage earner in NYS, much of my salary goes to support programs in NYS and your salary, as well as my own as a public school employee. As a registered independent voter, I participate in every election. I appreciate that many of you are well intended individuals who work to make a difference in the communities you serve, for that I thank you. I point out that I am a voter and a taxpayer in the hope that it will get your attention as I am beginning to believe that winning elections is all that matters to many of our politicians in NYS.
What I do not appreciate are the ways in which many of you are over reaching and becoming involved in every aspect of my life. I am a reasonably intelligent woman, I would challenge that I am as intelligent as you are, and I do NOT need you to mandate every decision as if I’m totally incapable of deciding anything on my own. Rather than speaking to all of the personal freedoms and responsibilities that I’m concerned about, I will speak specifically to that area of which I have particular expertise, gained from 25 years in the field—public education.
We are in a period of transition in public education, one in which we are raising expectations and aligning content for the children of all of our NYS public schools. This is happening in a HUGE way and is a very complicated issue–some of it we’ve gotten really right and some of it we’re still working to get right. I wrote about some of the changes in a blog post earlier this week here. In our district, the Randolph Central School District, in which I am the superintendent, we have worked very hard to improve our academic programs for all students. Specifically, we have worked to align our curriculum to the common core standards. This has been incredibly hard work for everyone involved, including our teachers, students and parents. And it’s been worth it because our students will exit our school better prepared than students who graduated under the previous ambiguous, convoluted NYS learning standards.
What do I need from you? I need for you to direct those parents who are contacting you to talk to us, the experts in the field. You are not an expert in education. It’s often been said that everyone who’s gone to public school considers himself to be an expert in education. Well I’ve flown on an airplane and I’m certainly not an expert in aviation. We have a system in place with the Board of Regents and the State Education Department and LOCAL SCHOOL BOARD MEMBERS (who by the way are unpaid servants in our communities) to govern our actions. When you hold forums and speak about common core on the news–you repeatedly demonstrate a poor grasp of the complex issues at hand (again read here, for a start) and you frankly confuse our parents and community members. Stop speaking out in your obviously limited understanding of common core and using public education as leverage in your political campaign. It’s self serving arrogance at its finest.
I have watched our commissioner of education hold public forums, attend Senate education committee hearings, and make himself accessible to our communities repeatedly. At every turn, MANY do NOT listen to him. Politicians and others continue to use those opportunities to advance an agenda, espousing rhetoric without a thorough grasp of the facts or any intention to accept there may be another side to the argument.
If as a fellow taxpayer, parent, or community member, you would like to meet with me to talk about the complex issues involved in transforming education—please contact me as I would gladly meet with you to discuss the changes, the problems, and the solutions. But if you really want to understand, you’d better give me more than 20 minutes on lobby day with one of your aides because you’ll never attain a clear, thorough picture otherwise.
If you truly care about public education and the children of this state, get out of the way. Allow the local school boards, the educators in the schools, and the current state education department leaders to do our jobs. We know it’s messy, we know what we need to do better. Talk to us about your concerns. Tell parents to talk to us about their concerns, then get out of the way and let us do it.
LOCAL CONTROL OF OUR PUBLIC SCHOOLS.
Kimberly Moritz, Randolph Central School Superintendent
P. S. Call me any time for a meeting, a phone call, to Skype, Google Hangout, whatever works! 716-358-7005