BY: MATT PECORARO
In the midst of a blizzard, the North Babylon High School Chapter of NGP held a Town Hall attended by New York State Senator Phil Boyle, Suffolk County Legislator Kevin McCaffrey, Babylon Town Supervisor Richard Schaffer, North Babylon School Board President Robert Scheid, and North Babylon School Board Trustee John Schneidawin on Friday, December 15, 2017, with the topic of the event being education. Members of the chapter and students of the high school filled the North Babylon Public Library for the event, with some there to satisfy their existing interest government and politics, some to try something new, and, at first, some to receive the extra credit offered by the high school’s social studies department for attending.
The night started with an introduction to the event by the event coordinator and NGP Chapter Leader, Matthew Pecoraro. Following general guidelines about how and when questions will be asked and a brief thank you toward everyone who helped facilitate the event, the town hall began with introductions from each of the elected officials. At length in these introductions, each elected official described their personal involvement in education policy and views about topics of political contention, notably among them the funding principle that New York State has employed and past experiences with how schools function. After this period, the questions began.
Each question asked was followed by a myriad of discussions between each of the present speakers and the attendees. The beginning portion of the event was filled with conversations ranging from the potential effects of the revocation of Net Neutrality on schools, the legality of unpaid internship opportunities, and the increased costs of colleges. Each speaker contributed their own dynamic to the conversation, from Trustee John Schneidawin’s personal experiences with an online college (which he viewed very favorably) to Senator Phil Boyle’s first-hand opinions on how education laws are passed in the State Senate.
About halfway through the night, the question of the hour was asked: what each of the politician’s views on the existence and implementation of Common Core were. The stage had a near unanimous view that the implementation of Common Core was rushed and done in a sub-par fashion, although there was some contention over whether or not, as a concept, Common Core is for the better or worse. Other questions, specifically regarding charter schools, were asked to which most of the speakers replied that they viewed them as necessary in some areas, but not in areas such as North Babylon where they’re viewed to take funding from the public school system.
As the night progressed, the questions were progressively more detailed and, in some ways, more specific. Questions regarding the North Babylon School District’s new bond and security policies were asked, sparking conversation about first hand experiences within the school that will undoubtedly result in change within the district.
As the night drew to a close, each of the present elected officials were thanked for their involvement. All in all, the participants appeared to have had a good time and a renewed sense of political efficacy as a result of the lengthy discussion.