BY CAROLETTE MEADOWS
Eighteen year old Hutch Tech student, Austin Harig is young, bright, and talented. But for some, his youth is an unforgiving obstacle. Despite the cynics, Harig has demonstrated a wisdom far beyond his years.
Harig participated in the school board debate hosted by the Western New York Association of Black Journalists. At the debate he displayed a firm grasp of issues facing the district and very logical suggestions on how to address those issues. He exuded such self-assurance and skill that Jennifer Mecozzi, who shared the platform with him, had to admit that she was glad they weren’t opponents.
Harig, an advocate for neighborhood schools, agrees that there must be equity in curriculum offerings, programming, and student services throughout the district. Otherwise, parents will continue to clamour for seats in the district’s few performing schools.
On last week’s Sunday broadcast of ‘Hardline with Dave Debo’ (WBEN), the show appeared to play gotcha politics aiming to set Austin up — but the young man turned the tides and humiliated an unprepared Carl Paladino. The show also implied that Austin had phoned in of his own accord in order to interrupt Paladino’s interview, but in fact he received a text message from the show’s producers to call.
Paladino may have committed agism in presuming that Harig would be easy prey. He found out that Harig is impressive and knowledgable, all the while answering questions and returned a strong volley after being on the receiving end of Paladino’s classless jabs. Harig can hold his own — and with eight colleagues who are many more years his senior in age and experience, he could emerge as a sharp and fresh thinking force on a stale and struck board.
Of all the candidates solicited, Harig was also the only one who honored his commitment to speak to a parent — not just the press.
This writer is not only a parent, but also a Park District resident. Carl has made bold promises but has kept none. He hasn’t succeeded with his reform agenda, charters, or neighborhood schools. He hasn’t busted the union, or increased his wealth by dismantling public education. After a failed tenure, I’m voting for the kid with first hand knowledge of the challenges that BPS students face.
School board elections will be held on May 3rd, 2016.