School boards across Long Island swore in new members and re-elected trustees in the last couple of weeks to kick off a brand new school year. With every fresh start, we have an opportunity to better our communities, and ourselves, but this idea carries even greater weight when a top state education official is also starting a new term.
Our greatest hope is that our superintendents, school board trustees, parents, principals, teachers unions and other leaders will make every effort to partner with the state’s new education commissioner, MaryEllen Elia.
The New York native, who was a teacher in this state and a superintendent in Florida, took the helm from controversial former Commissioner John B. King Jr. this month. She certainly has a rough road and a lot of work ahead — agreeing to pilot an education system in which large numbers of students are refusing state exams and concerned parents are protesting the Common Core Learning Standards on a regular basis. It’s not a job many would envy.
King’s approach to implementing the Common Core left a bad taste in a lot of parents’ and educators’ mouths, but we should be careful not to allow that sourness to affect our relationship with Elia — she deserves a chance to prove herself.
We should do our best to open the dialogue and calmly communicate our grievances. We should keep open minds and be willing to collaborate.
Our children and our education system are important to our communities. In order to stay competitive globally and to further challenge our teachers and students, we need to keep as our No. 1 goal the improvement of our educational system. It sorely needs improvement.
Let’s do everything we can to build a positive relationship with this new commissioner, and thus build a more positive school environment for our students who will inherit the future.