Stop Politicizing Our Schools – OPINION

Stop Politicizing Our Schools – OPINION

By: Steve Saperstein, Candidate for the 46th Assembly Seat

As a New York City public school teacher, I’m excited to start another year of school teaching bright minds and young adults. However, as a candidate for the 46th Assembly District, I’m nothing but pessimistic as our children are yet again struggling under the grip of bad school policy.

As an educator, I have seen the problems facing our schools firsthand. Our youngest and brightest students do not have the resources to better learn in our current system. With so much wrong, our students suffer each year from a lack of gifted and talented programs, confusing common core, not enough technical or CTE schools, and an over-focus on standardized testing.

The lack of any gifted and talented elementary schools in our communities only hurts our children’s future. Unable to thrive in an environment that is challenging enough for our brightest young ones, good students slip through the cracks and never realize their potential because of our failures. According to Inside Schools, a website that gives parents the ability to review schools, many of the elementary schools in the district scored, on a scale of 1-10, below a 3, signaling that parents are fed up with the status quo.

Their data comes directly from the Department of Education. When innovative solutions like charter schools were introduced, the UFT and other city officials denounced the effectiveness of these alternative methods of education even though they were shown to increase test scores and send more kids off to college. Instead of following in the lead of supporting our students through innovative and proven means of success, our city and state leaders cave time and time again to their union bosses in exchange for political support.

Not every student is college material. This is not controversial.

Instead, some of our students are best when they are working in trades that require their hands. Some students seek alternative methods of education, seeking different materials than just college-ready work. Our communities were built on the backs of the working class and are the hardest working members of our city. Since most of us know of children that are not interested in college, but other professional careers, like automotive technology, HVAC work, or carpentry, why is there only one fully dedicated Certified Technical Education school, CTE- trade school in our community, William E.Grady? Why is the school at less than 50% enrollment capacity? This is a fact.

Giving students the alternative means of becoming valuable members of society should be pursued and we need to open more technical education centers for students so our young people do not walk out of high school with few life skills to pick up a trade.

Lastly, our students are forced to spend their entire school year focusing on two subjects, math and English. With an obscene focus on the state’s standardized testing, our students are deprived of arts and science programs.

How are we to train the next NASA engineers if we just focus on two subject tests?

STEAM programs- science, technology, engineering, arts, and math- are a comprehensive curriculum that allows our students to study everything the universe has to offer and our leaders are, again, failing us. Our leaders are underutilizing the power of different learning methods in our communities and failing our students to better prepare them to become leaders.

The worst is when elected officials and their minions brag about allocating our hard earned tax money to improve schools. I see this all the time in press releases and messaging to parents in the district. Bragging as if the millions personally came from them and weren’t going to be allocated anyway.

It is time to change the horrific state of our school system. From union political agendas to lack of school funding, we must focus on alternative methods of education, rather than a one size fits all policy. This is how we can help lift our young people out of poverty and create the next generation of hometown heroes.

Steve Saperstein is running in the 46th Assembly District as the Republican, Conservative, Independence, and Reform candidate this year. Steve is a special education teacher in the New York City Department of Education.


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