February 15, 2015
Dear Governor Cuomo,
My name is Tara Molloy-Grocki. I am a 21-year veteran teacher. I am also a parent of a 19, 15 and 7 year old. Needless to say, I am angered over your attack on public education. Your statements are nothing more than untruths and misunderstandings.
I was shocked to learn that your mother was a teacher. I was shocked because I thought how could someone with a parent who was a teacher be so wrong about the profession? In my opinion, here are 5 things your mother should have told you about public education.
1. Teachers are student lobbyists. It’s our job. We protect our students. We fight for our students. Among many things, we are their teacher, mentor, coach, tear wiper, and advocate.
We protest when things are wrong because they harm our students. We lobby and write letters to defend them because we want what’s best for them.
2. Public schools are NOT a monopoly. Public schools are the foundation for democracy. You are correct that education is the great equalizer, but who is your “opportunity agenda” an opportunity for? It’s not for public education. It’s nothing more than an opportunity for your wealthy donors to privatize public education. It’s another carrot stick being thrown at public schools. We are still choking on the carrot stick called Race to the Top. Haven’t we learned from that?
3. Teachers’ unions do not protect child molesters. That remark is a vicious attack on teachers’ union. It is also a clear example that you have no idea what the role of the teachers’ union is. As stated in number 1, our first and foremost responsibility is to protect children. Teachers and teachers’ union would never allow a known child molester near a classroom.
4. Tenure is not a job for life. Tenure guarantees a teacher the right to due process. This protects teachers from arbitrary firing. It gives the teacher a process to prove him or herself innocent if falsely accused of an action that could cause him or her to lose their career. Certainly, you can understand the importance of innocent before proven guilty. Tenure is a right that ALL workers deserve.
5. Public schools need adequate and fair funding to thrive. Between the 2% tax cap, GEA, unfunded RTTT mandates and reduced state aid to public schools, you have strangled the budgets of school districts. As a result, there are larger class sizes, program reductions, and school closings. And who suffers the most from this? The students. The very people you claim to be a lobbyist for.
The next time you see your mother ask her about these things. Ask her why she didn’t give you the whole picture of public education. Better still, visit a public school. Visit several across the state and see the amazing work that is happening despite the extreme obstacles we are facing. See what it’s like to go to a colocation school in NYC or a small rural school in Schoharie County. Go out to Long Island and see how your policies have hurt them or drive down Western Avenue in Albany and stop to visit the schools there and see the struggles they are enduring.
I sincerely hope you take the time to reflect on your vision and belief of public education. You referred to the experts for your decision on fracking. How about referring to the experts on education?