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May 14th, 2014

Who Will Be the Winners, Teachers or Students?

Lillie Howard

Come Tuesday May 20th the Newburgh Enlarged School District’s Board of Education election will be going on and at the end of the day who will be the winner? The Newburgh Teacher’s Association or our students? Taking into consideration the information that I pulled from the New York State Education Department’s BEDS Report I find it to be quite necessary that we elect candidates that will begin to address these problems. And what are they? #1) In a school district that consists of a student population that is upwards of 75% minority and a teacher population which is 80% white how is it possible that those teachers could have an honest understanding and compassion for the plight of those students that they deal with on a consistent basis? 2)How can a teacher population that is 80% white, culturally and socially, identify to a population of which they are not a part of? Perhaps this is why we have such a disproportionate number of referrals, suspensions and high drop-out rates of students of color because those teachers are not able to identify nor relate to our children.

Whomever is elected to this school board should be able to understand and be concerned about these various issues that are seriously affecting our community.Because what does or doesn’t happen within the school district directly affects what does or doesn’t happen within our various communities. School board members have to be able to relate and identify with the various problems that their students are being faced with on a daily basis which is a large contributing causative factor to their dropping out of school. How can a teacher tune in to this if they have had no experience with it. Here are some issues that our students are being faced with on a daily basis that school teachers need to be aware of: 1) Seventy-one percent of high school dropouts are from fatherless homes. 2) Children growing up in single-parent homes are five times more likely to be poor, three times more likely to commit crimes that could lead to prison, and twice as likely to drop out of school. If they drop out of school, and odds are that they will, they become prime targets for gang recruitment. In a gang or not, once they drop out of school they may wind up selling drugs, going to prison or the morgue. Seriously think on this because the lack of addressing this during their school years definitely causes serious problems within our communities. If one hasn’t lived it or been surrounded by it how does one come up with the necessary solutions that will seriously begin to address it.? Whether we like it or not school systems cannot continue to do business as usual. This is a different time therefore things have to be done in a different way. This is the reason for "No Child Left Behind!" Taking into consideration the Newburgh school system’s high drop-out rate. Evidently the State Board of Education just doesn’t care about what’s happening in the Newburgh Enlarged School District. and just how many of our students are being LEFT BEHIND!

Because of all that is mentioned above I seriously feel that our community should support candidates that can and will try to put things in place that will begin to seriously address these issues.

Sheila Murphy (Lever #2 ) is the candidate that I feel can seriously identify with many of our youth because she has experienced many of the issues that our youth are being faced with and are going through but she survived it. She knows experimentally what many of our students are presently experiencing. She can bring to the Board a new way to ensure that the seriously high drop-out rate can begin to be seriously lowered. She’s that voice that has been so badly missing for she’s been there and done that and in addition to that she will be bringing not only a mother’s point of view but also a personal one. She’s a survivor and our students can become that also if things are put in place to seriously help them to move in the right direction.

Runston(POP) Lewis (Lever #4) was on the school board for 22 years but he never had the majority support that was needed to get many of his issues supported. When he was going to finally have that support he lost that election. WOW! I find it to be quite interesting that an individual being the only board member in the last ten years given the "Friends of Education Award" by the Newburgh Teacher’s Assoc. would not have been one of the candidates that they endorsed. Also, being that he has received letters from the past presidents of the Newburgh Teacher’s Assoc., for his interest for public education for ALL students would seem to have brought forth an endorsement by them. Oh well ‘ that’s the way that cookie crumbled.’ These questions need to be seriously pondered. But to all of this Runston (POP) Lewis has received the CSEA endorsement this year.

George Bowles (Lever #14) was a teacher in our school district for many years and his wife Grace was also on the school board and is also a retired teacher. His daughter is presently a teacher in our school district. Hopefully, this will mean that Mr. Bowles should have a lot to bring to the board for his experience could be beneficial to our students.

Hopefully, I have made the right choices that will be beneficial not only to our students but also to our community. I’m asking ALL of my readers to seriously think about all of this and go to the polls on Tuesday, May 20th and pull the levers that I have suggested. To those candidates I say "once elected please let your hearts be seriously dedicated to what’s going to be best for our children to ensure that they will become high-school graduates and not high-school drop-outs." News Flash: The Newburgh/Highland Falls NAACP will be sponsoring a "Board of Education Candidate’s Forum" on Thursday, May 15th@ 6PM at Best Temple, 111 South Street, Newburgh, N.Y. Come out to hear these candidates and also ask questions. This is Lillie’s Point of View!

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