As a legislator, I have helped put in place significant measures to help educators successfully educate our children. I have been extensively involved in proposals that affect funding to our schools, such as property tax caps, MTA payroll tax and securing grants and additional school aid.
To protect our children from escalating school violence, I took an active role in the SAVE legislation, which required schools to adopt better school safety measures. Consistent Codes of Conduct, fingerprinting prospective employees, better communication between law enforcement and schools and character education were among some of the initiatives included in this landmark legislation.
Other legislation I've introduced to help keep our children safe include requiring reflective markings on school buses and increasing penalties for speeding in a school zone.
I have also spoken out against the increased emphasis on standardized testing. This cookie-cutter approach lacks vision and insists that every child learn the same material at the same pace. Pressured by test results, teachers lose the freedom to be responsive to the varying developmental needs of the whole child. In this environment, it is difficult to foster independence, critical thinking, problem-solving and creativity. These are the skills our young people need to succeed.
Although it has been many years since I've worked in a school - first as a teacher and later as an administrator -- I will always be an educator at heart. I frequently visit schools throughout my district, celebrating their accomplishments, encouraging students and listening to the concerns of teachers and administrators.
(To read about legislation relating to special education, please see Advocating for Those with Disabilities.)