To the Editor:
Over the past two years, Councilwoman Deborah Kleckowski has worked tirelessly assisting special needs families in working with local officials and those at DCF after the wake of the unfortunately named "scream room" controversy that occurred at Farm Hill School.
She worked with individual families who sought her help in establishing better standards of care for special needs students after the dismantling of the previous district wide special education program that had been held at Spencer School.
Deb has continued to display her advocacy stemming from her being a member of the DECA Advisory Board for 20 years, a state DECA Judge for six years, an annual speaker for the Middletown High community service program for over 10 years and a supporter of the Ryan Woods Autism Foundation.
She participated in the resolution the AFSCME 466 labor breach of contract by the previous board of education dministration.
As a councilmember, she supported sick day donation for ill city employees and a professional advocate for educational opportunities and access for all students for over 20 years. She is also a member of the nearly created Career-Technical Education Advisory Board.
What is amazing as a mother of two young children is that her advocacy is all volunteer time to better her community. She does this in addition to her position as an adjunct professor at Middlesex Community College.
Despite all the hard work I have mentioned that Councilwoman Deborah Kleckowski has put into Middletown education — the teacher's union Middletown Federation of Teachers Local 1381 has chosen to endorse Matt Lesser.
Although Rep. Matt Lesser is on the State Legislature's Education Committee, he could have done and/or could be doing so much more for the students of Middletown.
He supported the passing of a law that any incidences of restraint used in special education services have to be reported to the state after the fact; notwithstanding the issue that the current programs are failing our most vulnerable students — something that Candidate Kleckowski has already been actively trying to fix in Middletown.
One wonders could the support from the Teachers Union he received be based upon his support for legislation regarding tenure that the teacher's union campaigned for? If so, why didn’t they also support Deb for her tireless efforts she advocated for here in our city of Middletown?
The statement given by Middletown Federation of Teachers Steve McKeever could also have been more complimentary to Deb, as she has proven her dedication to our teachers and educational system here in Middletown as Matt has done with his work on the Education Committee at the state level.
From my point of view and I am sure other educational advocates (parents and teachers), THEY BOTH are committed to improving education in our city and state in ways that make sense for all stakeholders!
This endorsement sends a political negative message for a person who works so hard for education in our community which Deb does not deserve. Also, when using the terminology "stakeholders," it is our children and youth who are the final stakeholders of our educational system too.
Councilwoman Deb Kleckowski will continue and always has been an educational advocate; in her eyes our children and youth of our city are the ones that matter most to her. I don’t agree with the Teacher’s Union’s endorsement and ask that the voters of our city to show their appreciation for all of Deb’s efforts when they go to the polls by voting for candidate Kleckowski.
Please remember, when you cast your vote don’t send the wrong message to our children and youth by basing it purely on politics. For if you do, the message is simple, “that hard work does not matter — it’s who can give you a hand up, not necessarily work or the greater good of all.”
Councilman Phil Pessina
Minority Leader of the Middletown Common Council