The sole contested race is for the Ward 2 seat. The Newton Teachers Association endorses Andrea Steenstrup in this election.
Dear Colleagues:

After eight years of exemplary service, School Committee Chair and Ward 6 representative Claire Sokoloff and School Committee Negotiations Chair and Ward 2 representative Jonathan Yeo are finishing their final terms. They have been able representatives, advocating for the best interests of all children in Newton. Claire and Jonathan should be proud of their accomplishments; the citizens of Newton can be grateful for their dedication and commitment to our schools.
 
As President of the Newton Teachers Association, I extend my gratitude for the support they have shown to Newton’s educators. Gracefully balancing competing interests, Claire and Jonathan have recognized and embraced Newton’s educators as the backbone of our excellent schools.
 
Their good judgment, built over eight years on the Committee, will be missed. Fortunately, we have a number of excellent candidates who have stepped forward: In Ward 6, Ruth Goldman, and in Ward 1, Ellen Gibson, are running uncontested, the latter to replace Geoff Epstein, who is stepping down after this term. Both show great promise as future leaders of the Newton Public Schools, and deserve our vote.
 
The sole contested race is for the Ward 2 seat. The Newton Teachers Association endorses Andrea Steenstrup in this election. On Wednesday, October 30, the Newton Tab endorsed Andrea’s opponent, Margaret Albright, arguing that Margaret has a better command of educational issues, and that Andrea’s focus seems to be less on educational issues than budgetary concerns. And the Tab claims that Margaret will replace Geoff Epstein in his role as contrarian.
 
Certainly the TAB is right that Andrea would bring a strong understanding of the budget to the School Committee. But in the candidates’ respective responses to questions posed by the NTA, we found that Andrea demonstrates an intuitive understanding of some of the fundamental concerns of both educators and parents. She recognizes the excessive emphasis and narrow focus on testing and data-driven instruction that the federal programs No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top, among others, are forcing upon local districts.
 
The Tab says that the School Committee needs a contrarian. True enough, and that is why the Newton Teachers Association endorses Andrea Steenstrup. She recognizes and values the importance of educating the whole child. She knows that teachers and parents care about the emotional needs of their children, that their creativity needs nurturing, and that we must guide them as they form their characters. Margaret beats her drum in time to the mandates of Washington: she believes that she is an expert on data-driven instruction, and wishes to set the rhythm for a set of one-size-fits-all changes that don’t fit our needs here in Newton. Her stance in favor of reducing fees may seem refreshingly contrarian to some, but it is unrealistic given the fiscal constraints under which the Newton Public Schools operate.
 
So the Newton Teachers Association urges you to vote for Andrea Steenstrup. Her voice may blend in more harmoniously with those of other members of our School Committee, but she represents the constructive contrarian voice. She says no to one-size-fits-all policies handed down from Washington that run counter to our values here in Newton; she recognizes that holding our own in the battle to maintain the excellence of Newton’s schools will not be easy, and may require our representatives to take unpopular positions. But she speaks in a voice that is recognizably Newton’s, expressing the values of this community, the very values that make Newton’s schools excellent. A “yes” vote for Andreas is a “yes” vote for what is best in our schools.
 
Thanks,
 
Mike Zilles, President
Newton Teachers Association
 
 


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