I was so pleased when Rachel Gilliar was elected to be a trustee of our public schools three years ago. She was a breath of fresh air and a welcome addition to our Port Washington Board of Education. In the past I have whole-heartedly supported our school board because they do a job, a full-time job with no financial recompense, the rest of us want someone else to do.
I still support the trustees, and most especially Rachel, now that I see the distortions being fomented by residents who have not bothered to understand the mechanisms of public education. School boards, under the law, are responsible for policy and money. The last thing we need is individual school board members who try to be the administrators, principals and all the teachers all at once. That would be the downfall of representative democracy.
Rachel did not create the pandemic or its offshoot, remote learning. Now that our schools have leaped into remote learning and sustained it for three months, I myself would have to say (because parents talk to parents) I know that in some cases it has been a success, in some a mixed result, and in others a flop, as it has been across Long Island and across the country. I am therefore wary of any candidate who sees this, our foray into remote learning, as a wedge to divide us from a common purpose.
While school trustees do not administer or teach, they are the recipients of our voices when we protest. They oversee those who oversee. They can demand excellence on our behalf. Why in the world would we not support the only incumbent running for the board. Anyone who has been paying attention would know that in meetings of the board of education, Rachel has been expressing, publicly, her doubts about the district’s remote learning plan and signaled it was insufficient and in trouble long before this short election cycle.
We need Rachel more than ever. The reason I say Rachel has been a breath of fresh air is that, for one thing, she is both a parent and what is euphemistically called a stakeholder, meaning she and her husband pay taxes and support four young children. She understands the way money impacts the education of her children and everyone else’s children and the way money impacts day-to-day living and security for all of us.
I know some people think the only decisions to be made by a school board involve spending as little as possible, but, as a single parent, I am not one of those people. I believe a society is only as strong as the combined intellect and education of its population. I believe the schools should first figure out the best way to educate the next generation and then address the means to pay for it.
If you have not had a conversation with Rachel Gilliar, you should. Her presence is reassuring and she often treads softly, but make no mistake: she stands by her principles and she stands for our community.
When you receive your absentee ballot, make sure to vote Rachel Gilliar. If you do not, our Port Washington community will have lost a clarion voice always speaking on our behalf.