I have been a homeowner in the Larchmont-Mamaroneck community since 2004, but until I started talking to people on our streets while canvassing for the Board of Education election, I now realize I didn’t really know my fellow residents that well.
Here are six things I have learned while campaigning to be elected to the School Board on Tuesday May 21:
1. The vast majority of residents care deeply about the way our schools are run. However, most don’t realize they have an opportunity (this Tuesday) to elect the members of the Board who oversee the school budget and school administrators. Many have told me I am the only candidate running they have actually heard about, met or who has asked them for their vote.
2. Almost all the parents I have spoken to are really worried about their kids being bullied at school, either physically, verbally or on social media. Bullying at school is a major issue across America. I want to ensure the Board of Education addresses bullying in all its forms. Only by acknowledging and owning this problem can it start to be addressed. Our current Board simply sweeps complaints under the rug which is why I am campaigning for more transparency.
3. Almost all the parents I have talked to whose children have been exposed to bullying, have been dissatisfied with the way administrators and district personnel have handled it and their complaints about it. Sometimes, school administrators seem more concerned about protecting the bullies rather than the bullied! They desperately need help and training to recognize and deal with bullying.
4. Many people say diversity is one of the reasons they were attracted to this community yet they are deeply concerned about incidents of racism and anti-semitism that their children have witnessed or been exposed to. Local parents tell me they want to prepare their children to live in a multi-cultural and ethnically diverse America. Our schools are where that learning and preparation for life begins.
5. Every home owner cares about the re-sale value of their home and since property prices are tied to the reputation of our schools, it is important that our School Board equips our teachers and school administrators(many of whom live elsewhere) with the right training but also holds them accountable for delivering the very best education system possible.
6. Finally, most people do not realize that the official sounding “selection committee” made up of 24 private residents (they say they are “elected” but they have to invite you to be on their “ballot”) has for years selected their own candidates for the School Board. However well meaning, this group of private individuals have no right or qualifications to decide for the people of our community who should or should not be on our School Board. If you care about exercising your democratic rights, I encourage you to make your own informed choice and vote on the issues you care about.
My name is last on the ballot paper and whether you vote for me or not on Tuesday (7am to 9pm on May 21 at your local Elementary School), I hope you will at least exercise your democratic right to vote. I believe all children in our community deserve the opportunity to feel safe at school so they can learn, thrive and reach their full potential.
Sincerely, Tania Thomas