School Board Service, Public Education and Democracy
Dear fellow School Board members,
In honor of School Board Recognition week, thank you for your dedicated service to public education. You are the voice of your community in setting the educational mission for your schools and promoting the best interests of every child in fulfilling that mission. You are the ultimate advocates for all school children and for public education.
Our public schools, in contrast to private or charter schools, are committed to educating all children within our borders, without exception, in recognition of their right to a sound basic education under the New York State Constitution.
The promise of a free system of public schools accessible to every child is essential to our democracy. The framers of our constitution understood this well: “I know no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education. This is the true corrective of abuses of constitutional power” (Thomas Jefferson to William C. Jarvis, 1820).
It is time for our public schools to reclaim their role in civic education. Teaching our children to apply critical thinking skills to issues of self-governance and civic responsibilities is a mission we can all embrace in advancing education for the future. There is no greater reward in school board service than seeing our students on graduation day, knowing that we have helped them become informed, productive and active participants in our communities and our nation.
President, Westchester Putnam School Boards Association