The Manhasset Board of Education has done well by our children, especially under recent adverse circumstances. Its members, and all candidates for membership, are ethical, competent and public-spirited. In the presence of good performance, it seems audacious to ask whether we can do better. But I believe we can. How? Via expertise, execution and relentlessly high standards.
Frank Bua, one of the candidates in the May 18 Board of Education election, embodies these characteristics.
Expertise. Frank has been a leading educator for 25 years and currently serves as chair of the social studies department at a top-ranked middle school. He brings the same passion to the classroom today that he brought on day one, and that passion has improved lives. I’ve read letters from his students. You know that handful of teachers that you remember from your early education—the ones that molded the way you see the world today? That’s Frank. At the same time, Frank is an education realist. He understands budgets, unions, politics and placements. In guiding education policy for our children, there is no substitute for Frank’s successful, bone-deep experience.
Execution. You know the saying, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,”? Frank does not buy that. More specifically, the fissures in a system are sometimes only visible in retrospect—after a series of incremental improvements. And Frank has spent his nonprofit career relentlessly identifying and executing on such incremental improvements. He has served on three national nonprofit boards, sometimes as chair, sometimes as a non-chair member, always as a leader. He leads by the power of ideas conjoined with a specific roadmap for execution and a willingness to course correct. He doesn’t care if he’s right; he cares about moving an institution toward the right outcome. He has a bias for action.
High standards. Frank holds people and policies to high but fair standards, starting with himself. But in public education, high standards do not only equal high test scores. Quite the opposite. Frank approaches the pluralistic and polyglot undertaking which is public education from behind the proverbial “veil of ignorance.” He asks, if we’re not clear where a student would start—in terms of academic aptitude, economic endowment, national origin or religious tradition—what system would yield the greatest benefit for the greatest number? That is the high, apolitical standard to which Frank aspires, in life and learning: pushing the highest achievers, offering a second on-ramp for later bloomers and providing extra support for those who need it.
Excellence in education used to be a luxury. As knowledge work continues to predominate in the global economy, education excellence has become an imperative. Frank Bua can help the Manhasset Board of Education move further in the direction of excellence, if given the opportunity. We can give him that opportunity on May 18.