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POLITICAL PARTY STRUGGLES FOR CONTROL OF THE BOE HARM EDUCATION

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Investment in education is the key to our American future.

This is true at every level of government from the federal to our most local Board of Education. It’s true in our personal lives, in the personal lives of each and every American, whether ourselves, our children, grandchildren, great grandchildren, or all Americans in all generations yet to come.

Education, Education, Education. It’s all about our investment in education.

So, we’ve had a pretty good education year in Greenwich after the turmoil of the 2011 Board of Education election and the contentious years preceding that election. A new Superintendent of Schools was hired; BOE members have worked well together; there’s been a collaborative focus on our educational needs and the direction we should take.

And everyone has praise for BOE chair Leslie Moriarty, the hard work she’s done, and the leadership she’s shown shepherding the BOE through difficult waters at such a critical time.

Thursday, the BOE votes to decide who its chairman will be for the next year. Given Moriarty’s past leadership, her seven years on the Board and the difficult budget season we face, there should be no question that Moriarty is the best person to lead the BOE for another year.

Instead, the question seems to have become one that centers on the town’s Republican establishment, presumably ultimately the Republican Town Committee that endorses the Republican candidates.

The Republican establishment is insisting that the BOE have a Republican chair. Moriarty is a Democrat.

The four Republican members of the BOE are expected to fall in line and nominate Barbara O’Neill, who’s served on the BOE barely a year, to replace Moriarty. O’Neill, a lifelong teacher, is a lovely and inspiring person who brings an important perspective to the BOE. But is the chairmanship the right role for her, or the best thing for the BOE, at this juncture? Most likely not.

And is this chairmanship battle the best thing for BOE functioning?

Truth is, this has nothing to do with who’s best for the BOE, or how best to serve our students at this juncture. Nothing to do with quality education. Nothing to do with anything positive. It’s raw party politics, pure and simple. The RTC Republicans don’t want a Democratic chairman, no matter how qualified or how good a job she’s done.

So, if there’s a 4-4 split vote on the BOE Thursday night, as seems likely, then members have 30 days to work things out. If that doesn’t happen, the Board of Selectmen makes the final decision.

Let’s hope it doesn’t go that far. Such turmoil is destructive to the Board and the schools it serves.

To paraphrase Selectman Drew Marzullo’s comment in Lisa Chamoff’s Greenwich Time article today, it’s a shame to see the school board get lost in party politics.

But that’s exactly what’s happening. And this can only be harmful to our Greenwich students.

Hopefully, Republican members of the BOE will rethink this.

Categories: General

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