BOE Write-In Candidate Philbin: Remove politics from the BOE and focus on high-quality academic programs

Open letter in response to letter to the editor from Greg Piccininno (LETTER: Time to Bring Back Rationality in Politics; Vote Mercanti-Anthony and Kittle for BOE Oct 24, 2021) submitted by Kara Philbin, write-in candidate for Board of Education.

Dear Mr. Piccininno,

I am writing in response to your letter published October 24, 2021. I am Kara Philbin, the independent Board of Education write-in candidate you have never met. I graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with a B.A. in Economics and English. At UPenn I was a D1, NCAA, All-American, All-Ivy and Olympic Training Camp field hockey player. After college, I enjoyed work that fused my interest and expertise in technology, finance, and commercial real estate in LA, Chicago, and NY. My husband Frank and I moved back home to this lovely town 13 years ago to raise our four children near his alma mater, St. Mary’s.

Locally, I’m active in the community, on the Western PTA, and volunteer as a coach. I have had the honor of nominating two of my children’s teachers who won Distinguished Teachers Awards. My mother was a pioneer in Title 9, and I share her passion for education. I have been able to respectfully and successfully bring about positive change for all students. As an example, I successfully paved the way to ensure all families in GPS have access to their right to an Independent Education Evaluation (IEE) and for GPS to correct their policies thereby providing more autonomy to families seeking IEEs. This achievement is not shared by any current or past BOE members. I would like to continue my advocacy role in an official capacity, as a Board of Education member dedicated to excellence in academics and achievement for all students.

Your letter embodies everything that is wrong with education today. Thank you for highlighting the four candidates NOT to vote for, Mercanti-Anthony, Kittle, Stowe, and Kostin – the four candidates who view our children’s future through their own political lens.

When the current administration is reducing resources for academics, especially Advanced Learning programs, we don’t need more politically motivated Board members. Instead, our School Board needs education-focused parents with children living the Greenwich public school education every day – parents like me and Megan Galletta with no political aspirations. We are both GPS moms who understand that our Board of Education should be focused on quality academics, meeting the needs of our students, and respecting diverse family values – not politics. Our schools are already too heavily politicized; we need to reprioritize and raise performance by bringing back the basics – reading, writing, grammar, arithmetic, history, and science. We need safe schools, less screen time, and more instructional time learning from our exemplary teachers.

Our schools receive the top 5% in resources, yet our English scores have fallen to the 73rd percentile statewide and our math scores down to the 65th percentile. In 2011 our test scores were in the 90th percentile. This is the result of a use of an “early literacy program” that was not science-based, math programs changing every three years, and a bad decision to focus on iPads in every classroom.

Building leaders and teachers tell me they are encountering behavior issues never seen before – and especially an inability to follow instructions and directions. This is not surprising when every year the students are learning less and less from teachers, and more and more with technology. One-on-one human interaction, and the ability to learn empathy is being lost.

The current 8th grade class, one of the most struggling grades in the district, were the first students in the district to pilot iPads. They are the Case Study – and I hear the younger grades are struggling even more with behavior, what has changed for them is even more screen time. We spend more money on technology, while teachers feel frustrated and our buildings crumble.

If this school district continues to make decisions absent transparency, accountability, and community voice, and continues to choose to infringe upon parental rights and family values, enrollment in the Greenwich Public Schools is in danger of dramatic decline, and the landscape of education in Greenwich would deteriorate, as families instead increasingly move or pursue private schools and homeschooling.

To prevent this, we need to remove politics from the Board and instead focus on restoring our high-quality academic programs. Our children always come first, and voters in our community will cross party lines to vote for the candidates focused on appropriate curriculum and building character, self-esteem and confidence through challenge and rigor in academics.

Only vote two: Kara Philbin (BOE 11 E fill in the oval, and write in Kara Philbin) and Megan Galletta (BOE 11B, fill in the oval).

Editor’s note: letters to the editor for candidates for the Nov 2, 2021 municipal election were due on Oct 26, 2021 deadline. This letter was submitted in time for the deadline.