I am writing today to declare my candidacy for the Manhasset School Board election on June 9.
Education matters to me. My father was a high school math teacher, principal of Brooklyn Tech, and, finally, principal of Jericho High School. My mother was a middle school language teacher. My wife, Valli, is a sociology professor at CUNY. Our offices are down the hall from each other at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, where I teach law and ethics. Much of my writing concerns education. I revere schools, and I believe passionately in their power to transform lives.
It is my love for schools that leads me to offer a new perspective and skill set as the district moves forward in trying to meet the challenges of these times. To succeed, I believe we need to follow three foundational principles:
- Transparency. Parents and all community members need the facts as soon as they become available. Plans needs to be made public before they are implemented.
- Maximal communication and community involvement. An effective distance-learning plan needs to include input from all of the many legitimate stakeholders including essential workers, parents of special needs children, parents of children with access limitations, and teachers. Such a plan would also draw upon the resources of the community including retired educators, parents with subject-matter expertise or technical knowledge, and the rich array of charitable organizations that help make Manhasset such a resilient community. We need a diverse working group to construct a new strategic plan for online learning. With the collective energy of the community engaged, creative solutions would emerge such as networks of small study groups, night sections, mastery-based learning, shifting the responsibilities of some teachers and staff, and a single agreed-upon platform for posting work and providing feedback.
- Commitment to teaching Whatever else happens, schools need to teach. Sending home assignments is not teaching, and four contact hours per week are not enough. With schools closed for the rest of the year, and the near certainty of additional closings next year, students will have a greater than one-year gap in their development if we stay this course. Students in need will suffer the most. Moreover, the perception of public schools will suffer. If voters reject the school budget it will make a bad situation worse, but the frustration would be understandable. We simply can’t justify spending $100 million to deliver four hours of instruction per week. We need a budget that reflects the reality that schools will not be functioning as brick-and-mortar structures for some time, so that teachers have the support they need to deliver as many instructional hours as possible.
My track record of public service within our community illustrates my dedication, discipline, and professionalism. I am the co-vice president of the Manhasset Community Fund. I served as chairperson of the SCA Citizen Education Committee during the last bond issue and on the school board’s Advisory Committee on Legislative Affairs for six years. I have coached PAL softball and baseball and CYO basketball for eight years, and basketball at Manhasset High School for two years. I served as an assistant coach on the 2018-19 team, which won the Long Island championship. I am a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School and the author of six books. Most significantly, I am the parent of three children—Suria, a college sophomore; Eamon, a graduating senior; and Mattie, a fifth-grader at Munsey Park.
If elected, I will bring the same energy, enthusiasm and dedication to the school board that I have brought to all of my professional and community work.
Over my many conversations this spring, concerned parents and neighbors have expressed how much they want to work together to ensure our schools serve their essential function: teaching. By engaging participation from across our entire community, I am confident we can weather this crisis, and provide our children the full-range of instructional services each of them needs to move forward.