Elissa Malespina – along with Susan Bergin, Courtney Winkfield and Kamal Zubieta – has won a seat on the South Orange-Maplewood Board of Education. Malespina’s three-year term will begin January 2021. Bergin and Winkfield have also earned three-year terms; Zubieta will finish the final year of a three-year term.
I am proud and pleased to have received the confidence of voters in South Orange and Maplewood to serve on the South Orange-Maplewood Board of Education. Despite facing some candidates with far greater resources, my campaign was a grassroots effort aimed at changing the narrative about our public schools and our community. I want to thank every resident that cast a vote for me and assure those that did not, that I will represent the school district in an ethical, truthful, transparent and forthright manner.
My purpose in seeking election to the Board of Education is to help elevate the quality of education all of our children receive and to bring special attention to student populations, such as Black students, our special needs students and our LGBQT+ students, that are often unrepresented, unheard, and dismissed. My sole interest is in reclaiming our school district as a unique environment where the talents, hopes and aspirations of children will be supported and celebrated.
One of my priorities will be to engage on issues focused on closing our unacceptable achievement gap between White and Black students, and making sure the terms of the historic settlement agreement between the District and the Black Parents Workshop are met and fulfilled. I will also make it a top priority that district library services are of the highest quality and that resources are available in all of our school libraries that will aid students in their academic pursuits and teachers in their daily instruction.
I intend to be a Board member that demands fiscal responsibility and supports our teachers and culturally respectful pedagogy. Our teachers are the lifeblood of our district, and as we demand a level of excellence from them in the classroom, we must reciprocate by offering respectful salaries and real opportunities for professional development.
Finally, I want to state emphatically that I will work to end the cliquish nature of local School Board politics. We must work together as a community for our children, and that means setting aside pettiness, social media attacks and innuendo, and dividing ourselves into warring camps. We are one community and as adults we must find ways to collaborate and compromise to give our children the best education possible. This I believe is our united mission and my personal commitment. Thank you again for your support.