By Tony Ditrio
To the Editor:
NORWALK, Conn. — I am writing this letter so that everyone understands why I strongly support Matt Miklave to be the next Mayor of Norwalk. I have been a teacher and administrator in the Norwalk Public Schools for 45 years. I have held many different positions with the board during my time here. I was a middle school math teacher for 16 years and I was at Central Office for 14 years. I am now the proud principal of Kendall Elementary School.
It has been my pleasure to serve this fine city that I have called my home for the last 40 years. I have raised two wonderful children that attended the Norwalk Public Schools. The Norwalk Public Schools mean far more to me than just being my employer. I could have left many times for positions in other districts, but my heart would never let me leave.
For the last 25 years I have been active in the Administrators Association. I have been vice president and now serve as president. In this role I represent all the administrators in Norwalk below the level of assistant superintendent. I also negotiate contracts for our administrators and deal with the day to day issues that arise. I need to work closely with the superintendent and the board. I have worked on school budgets and have been actively involved in working for fair budgets to support education in Norwalk.
I am not by nature comfortable working in the public spotlight. Over the last few years I have been compelled to speak out publicly to try and help avoid the destruction of a once proud and productive school system. Some have questioned my motives in order to try and silence my voice. During my time in the public spotlight, I have been called a “union thug” and “political operative.” This was to somehow taint my words and my beliefs. While I am not naive and knew that this was the price you pay for taking a stand, I admit it still hurts to have someone question your life’s work. In spite of the blogs and the rebuttals, I will not stop working for the interests of the children of Norwalk. I will continue to do all I can to get the support our kids need to provide a quality education for all our children.
I decided to work for Matt because I believe that he will do all he can to make Norwalk a better place for all of us. He wants to end the constant political bickering within the Democratic Party and have all voices heard. He wants to make this city move in a positive direction rather than just hunkering down, afraid to do anything. He has real ideas and he is an honest, good man. I know Matt will do all he can to provide the funds necessary to have a quality school system, a system that will have families wanting to live in Norwalk. I also know that Matt will work hard to make sure those less fortunate get a fair deal and that their children get the education needed to be successful.
I feel I must also deal with those that will try and insinuate that my endorsement will bring some sort of quid pro quo to the administrators I represent. The truth of the matter is that a Mayor plays no role in negotiating contracts with either the teachers or administrators. That is all done through a state-monitored and regulated Collective Bargaining Act. When the unions call for more money for the schools, it is money for the students. My salary and my benefits have nothing to do with how much money the city funds the Board of Education.
If you want someone to make Norwalk the wonderful city it can be then you need to get out on Sept. 10 and vote for Matt Miklave to be the Democratic candidate for mayor of Norwalk.