I want to debate the Governor of New York. I've heard enough about teachers, this crying need for a better evaluation system and I guess I'm tired of listening to a guy who's never been in a public school classroom for ten months teaching kids, many of whom had no interest in learning. There, I said it again! (Does anybody remember that song by Bobby Vinton?). I think it's time the governor stepped up to the plate and we had it on. Who better than me? Let's examine my resume:
My father was an automobile parts manager in New Jersey. He worked hard his entire life and raised four boys. Two of us, me and my brother Rich, became school teachers. And I really think it's important to take a close look at how that happened.
Before my very first day of kindergarten my parents, Leo and Angie Kronert, decided that a public school education was important. I never heard them say it out loud but what that meant was that the four of us were going to attend school regularly, pay attention to our teachers, respect all school rules, complete our assignments on time and graduate with a high school diploma. And get this: We were expected to do all this regardless of how poorly or well our teachers scored on their APPRs! (Oh, that's right; there were no silly APPRs in those days.). My Dad dropped out of school after the 8th grade because his parents forced him to work. (I know: You can't do that today and I agree that it is no longer in the best interests of any child to be forced to seek employment to help support his family. Times have changed and some of those changes are good.) My mother graduated high school and got married at 19. I was born exactly 9 months later! Go figure. Neither of my parents were college educated. Neither went on to make lots of money in their careers. Yet the two of them decided, (not the local school board or the politicians or the Mayor of Springfield, New Jersey), that their children were going to behave in school and do what was required to graduate. And all four of us did.
So here's what I believe qualifies me as the perfect candidate to debate the Governor of New York.
I've seen and experienced just how the school system can work.
My brothers and I were certainly blessed with good, caring parents. I am fully aware that that is not always the case for young people today. To that I say: Shame on those parents who bring children into the world but fail to make the necessary effort to teach them right from wrong. Shame on you! Uh, Mr. Governor is that the public school teachers' fault? If a child, (and there's lots of them), displays no interest in school, learning, or making a better life for themselves is that really the teachers' fault? Come on Mr. Know Everything about Public Education; is the child who has no desire to learn the teachers' fault? And is a new and improved teacher evaluation system going to suddenly cause the disinterested child to change? Let's debate! I'd love to hear your response to that one. My parents held me and my brothers accountable for our education. What did Leo and Angie Kronert think about our teachers? I can answer that one easily. The teacher was someone whom we had better listen to and do whatever they said! Sometimes parenting really is as easy as that.
So when did all this teacher-bashing start? I'm currently into my 33rd year as a math teacher. Yes, I was there in front of a classroom of kids before the powers-that-be stuck a label of evaluation on me. My oldest former students are 55 years old today. I've been around the block, Mr. Governor, and I believe that I know a heck of lot more about public education than you do. OK, so how can we set this up?
You're the governor of probably the highest taxed state in the country so you should be able to get your hands on plenty of money to make this debate happen. You pick the time, location and set all the rules. You should be equipped with all the power and so-called 'educational experts' to help make you feel fairly comfortable in support of your skewed angle on teachers and the need for this dynamic teacher evaluation system. I will come equipped only with reality. I know all about negligent parents, students who don't care to learn and the teachers who work hard every day to do their best to reach these children in need. Now are there lots of good, respectful, caring and serious students in the New York public schools? Of course there are! I'm sure that Mario was a great father and encouraged you to reach the level of success you presently enjoy. (Of course, we'll see how much longer that lofty perch remains yours!).
Come on, governor. Let's make it be you and me. It will be a classic match of the powerful against the unknown. It will be like David and Goliath. (Oh, maybe you don't like that analogy.) Anyway, let's do it. Let's debate this teacher evaluation thing and get it all out in the open. Back in 1969 Joe Namath predicted that the underdog New York Jets would defeat the mighty Baltimore Colts in the Super Bowl. They did! Now I'm not bold enough to predict anything like that but l will say this:
I like my chances!