My name is Lynda Rubin. I retired after 3 years of teaching and 38 years as a K-8 counselor. I remain an advocate for children.
This return to a Board of Education is a long time coming. I’m trusting that you’re all here to do good work and to lead the School District in a new direction, one that is responsive to the interests and needs of all of our city’s students, as well as to their families and our taxpayers. I suggest that part of this mammoth task is for you to evaluate the effects of the past 17 years of SRC changes to public education philosophy and practice with the actual results and impact on our schools. Financial management is certainly important – but in context to our responsibility to fully educate children coming from various socio-economic and racial backgrounds, with various language and special education needs all of which affect how they learn on any given day. We should borrow- First Do No Harm.
Decisions were deliberately made about what to spend money on and what to not spend money on, including years of ignoring lead, asbestos and unhealthy conditions in city schools, at least until they became a PR nightmare. Money was lavished on outsourcing and turning over as much of the District’s responsibilities as possible to simplistic, rigidly designed, one size fits all edu-businesses, such as Jounce Partners, as well as spending millions and millions on outside legal firms while stripping neighborhood schools of essential staff and resources. Most notable has been the SRC’s promoting cheap, unaccredited training for our teachers and principals via TNTP and Relay which will have lasting negative effects on real education and critical thinking skills of students. We’re fast losing the existence of a system-wide, cohesively run educational school district.
This new Board MUST re-evaluate the change in direction that the SRC took the District. A prime example is that the Board should oversee a forensic analysis of the on-going progress of schools that were up-ended and farmed out to pre-packaged programs, along with the deleterious effects of staff upheavals in many schools, especially those labeled Renaissance, Priority and Transition schools. How have they progressed once the spotlight on them dimmed? AND a priority must be made to correcting the problem of not having an assigned qualified teacher in every classroom all year- not a revolving door of subs and coverages. You must create a district where teachers and principals want to work, feel supported as professionals and choose to remain. Consistency matters!
I will close with a plea that you will hear from me again and again:
That you base your policies and instructional methods on accepted knowledge of developmental cognitive and social/emotional stages of children, on how poverty, homelessness and violence affect children’s learning processes and that you put into effect the supportive resources necessary to help children thrive – because they can!