Campaign lesson learned — nothing beats getting involved

To the editor:
Well, running for public office is definitely an edifying experience, and it’s one that more people should gain. Congratulations to everybody (on all sides) whom I joined on the campaign field in Tiverton, this time around, and best wishes to those who won. I suspect circumstances are going to prevent its being an easy term.

Among the lessons that justify specific mention, here, is the gratitude of knowing that over 2,000 of my neighbors offered their vote beside my name.  That’s an encouraging amount of trust, and even in defeat, it’s trust that ought to be answered with continued effort toward the
betterment of the town.

Thank you, especially, to those who solicited, donated, called, and knocked on doors on my behalf.  Such efforts were every bit as significant as anything that I managed to do.

The most important lesson, though, was actually a confirmation of something that families and educators already know.  In all of the stories about the schools, good and bad, that I heard while campaigning, one theme seemed universal: No factor is as crucial in your children’s
success as the involvement of their parents.  The law may require that school committee members put students first in their official duties, but no amount of dedication from them, the teachers, or the administration can substitute for the personal advocacy and support of mothers and fathers.

To those who have students in the Tiverton school system, I implore you to make your child’s success your top priority.  That includes help with homework and communication with teachers, of course.  But it also includes keeping a close eye on the operation of the district.

Ask questions.  Challenge the explanations that you’re given.

Far too many of the school committee meetings that I’ve attended over the years have been conducted in front of a nearly empty room. A great number of changes and complications are rolling down the hill toward America’s public classrooms — from a national common core curriculum to the continued struggle of government budgeting.

Your presence must be constantly felt.  And when the opportunity and the need arise, I hope you’ll consider seeking the experience that has taught me so much over the past nine months and run for office. It should be the rule, not the exception, that every seat on the committee
is challenged.

Justin Katz

Tiverton

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