Suzanne Owayda, who served on the Arlington School Committee from 2001 to 2006, was outraged when she saw Sean Garballey’s website. Sean is now taking credit for initiatives he opposed as a member of the school committee.
As a former School Committee member who worked with both Jeff Thielman and Sean Garballey, I am supporting Jeff Thielman for state representative. Jeff is extremely dedicated to public service, will work very hard for Arlington and brings unique life experience to the complex issues our legislature faces. As Jeff’s colleague, I was particularly impressed with his leadership role as chair of the School Committee during the FY ’07 budget cycle.
Jeff and I worked together on the last round of negotiations with the Arlington Education Association (AEA), in which we followed an interest-based bargaining approach. Jeff listened closely to the concerns of teachers and used what he heard to help construct a contract the AEA could accept.
I read with interest Sean Garballey’s Web site and was surprised at his claim to have “led the effort to address the needs of students in our Special Education and ELL [English Language Learner] programs.”
Jeff Thielman was the Chair of the School Committee when the state determined that the district was not in compliance with these programs. He met with Department of Education officials and made sure the School Committee gave the new superintendent the support necessary to implement the state’s requirements.
More importantly, the School Committee voted in the spring of 2006, at Jeff’s final meeting as chairman, to reduce several administrative positions in order to put more resources into special education and ELL for the 2006-07 school year. The vote, taken just days before Jeff faced the voters for re-election, resulted in the addition of three full-time ELL teachers, 1.5 additional special education teachers, 7 full-time reading specialists as well as other positions that increased services to our students.
What did Sean Garballey do? He voted against this budget! When the special education and English Learner students needed him most, Sean chose not to be a leader. The facts on who really led the effort to improve these programs are clear, which makes it completely disingenuous for Sean to claim a leadership role on this issue as part of his campaign for state office.
Please join me in voting for Jeff Thielman for our state representative.
Suzanne Baratta Owayda