Submitted by Anthony Lopez, Democrat, Candidate for Board of Education, Oct. 21, 2015
The one question that stuck with me from last night’s Board of Education forum is what are the strengths and weaknesses of our public school system? I agreed with all of my fellow candidates on the strengths of our school system. Our teachers are the heart and soul of all that we do. Without teachers, the limitless potential of our students could never be realized. Our students themselves are also a major strength of our schools. Their ability to persevere and to ultimately succeed in the oft times hyper stressful worlds of academia and social interaction is without parallel. The support of the entire Greenwich community for our entire student body underscores one of our fundamental school values and norms – care for self and others.
However, I disagree with one of my fellow candidates who said that our school culture is being “made worse by parents who feel entitled to have whatever they desire.” As a parent, I was offended that my advocating for the best opportunities for my three Greenwich Public School students was referred to as being “entitled” and making our school culture “worse.”
We parents are the primary advocates for our children. We are supposed to demand that our schools provide our children with every opportunity, in every area. That is not a sense of entitlement that weakens our school system. That is called good parenting. It is the duty of moms and dads everywhere to vehemently advocate on behalf of their children. We don’t believe that we can get our way whenever we want. But, we do expect that when we make reasonable requests of our schools, and of our Board of Education, to be heard and taken seriously.
This highlights why I am running for the Board of Education. I don’t believe that parents can ever weaken our school system. Nor, do I believe that parents are entitled simply because they place demands on our schools and the Board of Education. Last night I told parents that their voice should be the loudest at the table, and that I will always carry their voice into every board meeting. I am doubling down on that.
There was consensus among most of the candidates that the board needs to do a much better job at communicating with parents. I would also add that the board must do a better job at listening. I want to meet with our parents, students, and staff at every school, at least once per quarter. I plan to attend PTA meetings, open-houses, and a myriad of school sponsored events. I believe that board members are supposed to be accessible to the families they serve, and to the community as a whole. This race is not just about experience. Each of us candidates has experience that will be valuable to the board. However, only one of us is openly campaigning as an advocate for you. On November 3rd, I am asking that you elect me to be your partner on the Board of Education.