This is a letter to the editor from Ithaca Teachers Association member Matt Fellman. It was not written by the Ithaca Voice. To submit letters to the editor, op-eds, editorials and more, send them to Matt Butler at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 to 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 care for our ITA members so that we can best care for our students. We are committed to social justice and antiracism in our community. We are professionals working in solidarity with the local and national labor movement. Most importantly, we as thoughtful and caring humans, believe that education is made stronger by collaboration in all levels of decision making.
There are more than 600 of us professionals, but the few district and building administrators in the ICSD currently have a disproportionate voice in the decisions being made in our schools. The ITA has been identifying challenges for students long before the pandemic. As a union we understand how to make our schools better. We have agency in our classrooms, but we also need help from our Board of Education to help in our classrooms, our hallways, after school in our clubs and sports, and on our school buses. The past three years have spotlighted just how challenging 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 do have valuable insight that should be honored and engaged with, and that is why we are asking for your help.
We support great Board of Education candidates who share our values. We hope for candidates who will listen and work with the employees of the district, not just the upper-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 boardroom. We are looking for candidates who view our young people and the professionals who work with our young people, as allies not adversaries.
We need your help finding these candidates. Election day is May 17. Please talk to your friends and neighbors. Find who is willing to become an effective new member on our school district’s board, and nominate them by April 27. If you find a great candidate, send them our way, and we can help them to most effectively run for a seat. The ITA is looking forward to supporting great candidates and building collaborative relationships that can help unify all of the members of our school community.