Friday, August 1, 2014

Make The Difference

Today was about remembering a friend, the legacy she left, and making a difference to honor that legacy.  For me personally, it was about getting in touch with the "powers that be".  My friend Cindy wasn't one to sit back and wait - she took action.  So that's what I decided to do today to help honor her memory.

One of my passions in life is my children's education.  I'm determined that the amount of money I pay in school taxes every year will be used to make sure that at the end of their school career my monkey children will have gotten the best, experienced the most, and they will walk out as accomplished and educated young adults because our school district will have excelled.

For multiple reasons...this has not always been an easy road to travel.

Over the past few years, I've learned that if you want to see change happen, you MUST get involved. The implementation of Common Core Learning Standards isn't sitting right with you?  Do Something.  Individuals and poor decision making skills at a local level?  Do Something.  Money being taken away from local schools while taxes are on the rise?  Do Something.

At the very least, become informed.

I made that choice to become informed and apparently in the process, individuals sat up and took notice.  The first time I heard the words "major educational stakeholder in the community" I thought, Who me?  You're kidding, right?  I'm just a mom!  Make no mistake, I quickly learned that there is no such thing as just a mom.  My choice to get involved in my son's education began with understanding the role of high-stakes testing at his grade level, then evolved into learning about the Common Core Learning Standards, and we moved on to what was happening at the local level, and don't forget about state-wide...and wait? What's this GEA thing and what do you mean our school (and others like it) have lost MILLIONS of dollars over what was supposed to be a one-year gig?

Yeah...I became informed.  And involved.  And today, in honor of my friend, Cindy, and the incredible education advocate that she was - I made a list of politicians and I called them.  I discovered in the process that I'm not a fan of politics.

Six politicians:

  • 2 state senators (1 from each party) 
  • 1 assemblyman 
  • 2 candidates for governor (1 from each party)
  • 1 candidate for state senator.  
Unfortunately, at no point during my phone conversations today was I actually able to speak with the individual in office, but was directed to an office staff member.  No big deal.  I like to think that even politicians really are busy and can't personally answer every phone call that comes into their local office.

State Senator #1 - The office staff member answered my questions and replied to my concerns immediately by blaming the "other party".

If you know where I live, if you watch the news, and you know the problems affecting my school district then you should also know that blaming others for the issues at hand is definitely NOT the answer that I wanted to hear.  Please don't play politics with my children's education.  Don't blame the other side and don't blame the other Legislative House.  Be a big boy, pull up your big boy pants, and  get these issues fixed once and for all.  If you tell me that you are just as concerned as I am with public education reforms and state funding -  Prove it.

State Senator #2 - I thoroughly enjoyed this phone call.  I didn't get a local office staff member, but received a return phone call from his office in Albany.  Bonus Points for effort!  Joe (yep, that's his real name) even answered my questions with real foresight into the future of the state of New York,  the role he believed our "beloved" education commissioner would play, and talked to me about the "2-year pause" on high-stakes testing and where we needed to go from here.

Thanks Joe, for renewing my faith in my own State Senator!

Mr. Assemblyman's office staffer was obviously annoyed with having to take my call and honestly I wasn't all that impressed with her either.  Buh-Bye.

Candidate #1 for Governor I had to email due to no phone # on her website.  Simple and to the point, will you repeal this if/when you get elected?  (In other words, "how badly would you like this registered Republican to cross party lines and vote for you?")

Candidate #2 for Governor - This office staff member seemed to think that all of the answers to my questions were on the candidate's website, which only made me think that they didn't want to take my call either.  If you want to run my state, you may want to get my vote...especially as a registered party member.  Just saying, you may want to try a little harder in the future.  The only reason I'm not giving up on you yet is, admittedly, I do like the idea of that "Stop Common Core" ballot line.   Make it happen!

State Senator Candidate - Again, no phone number available on the website, so I sent out an email expressing my concerns.  This is just a reminder to said candidate:  I have a choice to make between you and the Senator who already impressed me to pieces today.   I hope you remember to impress me with your reply.   (Side note...apparently our household received Mr. Candidate's "card" in yesterday's mail with a phone number on it....looks like I have another phone call to make!)

Look, here's the deal... Don't brush me off, don't blame the other party for not getting things done, and please - - PLEASE!  Tell me what I can do to make things happen.  I'm here and I'm paying attention, and if we all agree that these issues at hand are a problem, then let's fix it!

Are you part of the problem, or will you be part of the solution?


~C.