Elizabeth Soggs: An Open Letter To Governor Cuomo From a Mom and School Board Member

By | February 18, 2015

The following letter was written by Elizabeth Soggs to Governor Andrew Cuomo.  Is he listening yet?

An Open Letter To Governor Cuomo From a Mom and School Board Member

Dear Governor Cuomo,

I have a problem and I hope you can help. Last week, my child decided to stay up all night and binge watch Gossip Girls on Netflix instead of studying. As a result, she failed a test she had the next day. I’m struggling with exactly how to word the letter of complaint to her teacher, because clearly, this is his fault. Were he an “effective” educator, she would have made a different choice. Where did he go wrong? How can I make him understand that he needs to do a little better if he wants to keep his job?

The above might be funny if it weren’t so close to the absolutely appalling plan you have proposed for evaluating teachers. You can’t be serious. I have to believe you know it’s a terrible plan as well, or you wouldn’t feel like you had to hold school districts’ funding hostage in order to get it passed.

I am a parent, a school board member, a taxpayer, and a registered Democrat. (I’m ashamed to say I even voted for you, twice.) I’m also a product of NYC Public Schools, and even without standardized testing, the Common Core and APPR, I managed to be the first person in my family to attend college.

You’re missing an important part about kids in your plan: they are not widgets. You can’t standardize them. I have three children, and they’re all different. They all make different choices. I don’t care how they perform on your tests. I care that they remain intellectually curious, that they are confident problem solvers and that they spend their days with teachers who have the freedom to academically challenge them while honoring their differences. Is it possible that you and Regent Tisch really don’t see how you’re ruining that for them and for all the children of New York State? Our teachers need more freedom, not less. Our districts need more flexibility, and more funding – not less.

Last week, I had the opportunity to attend a Q&A session with our local legislators and was asked what alternative I would propose to the APPR if I disliked it so much. Here’s my answer: LEAVE US ALONE. Our district, like many others across the state, is the best judge of our teachers, our students, and the education we provide. If you feel like you want to help, let me suggest you appropriately fund our districts and put an end to the Gap Elimination Adjustment. You might want to take a look at the real issue impacting education in this state: educational inequality. My son has 18 children in his 5th grade class. In a similar classroom less than 3 miles away, there are 32. Do something about that. Maybe then I could feel proud to have voted for you.

Today, I’m rating you ineffective.

 

Sincerely,

Elizabeth Soggs

New Hartford School Board Member, Parent, Voter and Taxpayer
New Hartford Central School D

 

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