REDMOND: “Letter to My Kids” is devoid of facts and heavy on political rhetoric

Letter to the editor from Jon Redmond – District 11

Like many of my neighbors, I began my Saturday morning happy that we would have a nice day and hoping that my family and I would get a chance to walk the Avenue and perhaps have lunch at a local restaurant for the first time in a long time. Then I checked the Greenwich Free Press and read a letter titled “To My Kids and the Kids of Greenwich” (May 24, 2020). This almost ruined my day, so I decided to do something about it and drafted this response.

It’s yet another insufferable, condescending and preachy Op-Ed in our local press that is devoid of facts and extremely heavy on political rhetoric designed to play to the emotions of people. In it the author writes a letter to children in which she describes how some members of our BET “fight for your education while others decided it wasn’t as important as property taxes.”

Reading these letters is like watching a terrible film that assumes its audience is as unintelligent as its script.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve had enough of people bashing the BET over their decision to keep our town departmental budget’s flat during the greatest economic calamity since the depression of the late 1920’s and 30’s.

It goes on to paint our Superintendent and our Board of Ed as superheroes who are there to “protect the schools.” I don’t have a problem with Dr. Jones, but I do know that while our BOE budget has gone up year after year after year, our standing as a school district hasn’t improved over time. Greenwich Public Schools are fine and are among the best in the state, even if they’re not THE best. We spend more per student than any other district, and all we keep reading about is that holding the budget flat is going to cripple our schools, lead to the firings of 50 teachers and implode our education system. If that’s the case, then there’s something much bigger wrong with our education system.

I would take the opposite view of this. If we can’t keep our town departmental budgets flat, (including the BOE’s) during a pandemic that has cost 100thousand American lives, shut down our economy for almost three months and led to 35million unemployed Americans, then when can we?? This is typical of the Board of Education. Every time they make a spending request, if there is pushback from town committees, the RTM, or in this case the BET, the Board of Ed riles up its PTA members (all it takes is a blast email) and weaponizes our children, using them as bait to make anyone who disagrees with them “against the children” or “against the schools.”

This is a bunch of baloney. All of our neighboring towns have done the same thing with their budgets. They have walked back their BOE proposals and made significant reductions to their respective BOE budgets. This is called being cautious during very uncertain times. It has nothing to do with the nonsense we keep reading in our local press about how if you support the budget you have “betrayed children.”

If this were a normal budget season and the BET wanted a flat BOE budget, I would raise my eyebrows and be concerned. This is NOT a normal budget season, so I have no problem with the BET requesting flat budgets from everyone. It’s the right thing to do for the moment.

To RTM members, don’t be pressured into supporting the upcoming SOMR by the BOE requesting interim funds. Stand up to the bullies and do the sensible thing. Vote no. We’re in a pandemic, and tough choices have to be made. This is one of them.