To the editor,
I was first elected to the Oswego City School District school board a little more than 20 years ago. One of my first contacts was from the New York State School Boards Association. They instructed me in my priorities for that year.
Priority one was to get rid of parochial schools. I still have the newsletter. Priority two was to get more money for public schools. Twenty years later, we have one tiny parochial school serving elementary students.
Eight years ago, I was involved with a group of educators from SUNY Oswego who wanted to establish a small charter school. We had the funding, the building, the plan and the instructors. New York denied the application. There are no charter schools available in this area.
Public school board members in New York are exempt from conflict of interest. They conduct contract negotiations in secret. This allows the teacher unions to pack school boards with spouses of teachers, retired teachers and even union officials. Essentially, the unions negotiate contracts with their own people on both sides of the table, behind closed doors. The results are predictable.
Public school teachers have tenure. This means that it is virtually impossible to remove a bad teacher from his or her position. And all teachers receive raises regardless of merit or competency. The results are predictable.
Up until recently, the teacher unions were able to force all teachers to pay dues to the unions whether they were members or not. The unions use large portions of these dues to select and elect state legislators who will give them what they want. The vast majority of these legislators are Democrats. The results are predictable.
Our public schools are inefficient, ineffective and unaffordable. They are, in many cases, teaching our kids what to think instead of how to think.
This year, our Oswego schools will only be teaching my grandson in person two days a week for approximately five hours a day. Half a day, half a week, half a year: I have no options. I can’t send my grandson to a parochial school where he will get full-time instruction. There are no charter schools available. I have no choice.
Francis E Hoefer