Letter to the Editor: Ithaca Teachers Association seeks school board allies

This is a letter to the editor from Ithaca Teachers Association member Matt Fellman. It was not written by Ithaca Voice. To submit letters to the editor, op-eds, op-eds and more, send them to Matt Butler at [email protected]

The Ithaca Teachers Association (ITA) is your local union of educators in the Ithaca City School District. In our roles as teachers, counselors, mental health support staff and coaches, we help students learn, but we also help them build strong relationships and develop life skills. We are committed to teaching and learning. Our students are at the heart of everything we do. As a union, we also have a responsibility to take care of our ITA members so that we can take better care of our students. We are committed to social justice and anti-racism in our community. We are professionals working in solidarity with the local and national labor movement. Most importantly, we, as thoughtful and caring human beings, believe that education is enhanced by collaboration at all levels of decision-making.

We are over 600 professionals, but ICSD’s few district and building administrators currently have a disproportionate voice in decisions made in our schools. The ITA identified the challenges for students long before the pandemic. As a union, we understand how to improve our schools. We have the agency in our classrooms, but we also need the help of our school board to help us in our classrooms, our hallways, after school in our clubs and sports, and in our school buses. The past three years have highlighted just how difficult it can be to thrive in the public education system. We know and deeply understand the challenges our students face, and we don’t have all the answers. However, we have valuable information that should be honored and engaged, and that’s why we ask for your help.

We support excellent candidates for the Board of Education who share our values. We hope for candidates who will listen to and work with district employees, not just top-level administrators. We are looking for engaged citizens who will learn with our students in the classroom, walk our hallways, attend our events, ride our buses, and speak with students and staff about their experiences. We are looking for caring people who want to make our learning environment better, safer and more loving by collaborating with the people in our schools, not just the people in the lecture hall. We are looking for candidates who see our young people and the professionals who work with our young people as allies and not adversaries.

We need your help to find these candidates. Election day is May 17. Please tell your friends and neighbors. Find out who is ready to become an effective new member of our school district’s board of trustees and nominate them by April 27. If you find a great candidate, send them to us and we can help them run as efficiently as possible for a seat. The ITA looks forward to supporting excellent candidates and building collaborative relationships that can help unify all members of our school community.

Andrew B. Reiter