With the filing deadline at 4 p.m. on July 31, South Orange-Maplewood Board of Education member Courtney Winkfield announced that she will not be running for reelection. Winkfield served one three-year term on the 9-person BOE; her current term ends in January 2024.
After careful consideration, I have made the decision not to seek reelection to a new term on the South Orange Maplewood Board of Education. It has been an immense privilege to serve this community over the past term, and I am grateful for the trust you placed in me.
My decision not to seek reelection is driven by a combination of exciting opportunities and personal commitments that have arisen in my life. Firstly, after twenty years in the NYC Department of Education I was offered a new job opportunity this year that aligns with my passion for educational equity and will allow me to further contribute to positive change in education systems across the country. Secondly, I am committed to dedicating more time to my children and family, ensuring that they receive the support and attention they need during these crucial and busy tween/teen years.
Furthermore, I am thrilled to announce that I have a new book coming out this fall, Shifting Self and System. This project has been a three year labor of love, and I am eager to share my insights and experiences with educational leaders across the country to continue advocating for equitable and transformational practices in education.
During my term on the Board of Education, I am particularly proud of the strides we have made in centering racial disparities in our day-to-day governance lens. We have worked tirelessly to ensure that every decision made by the Board is grounded in a commitment to equity and justice, with the aim of naming disparities, bridging gaps and providing a more inclusive and empowering educational environment for all students.
In collaboration with my colleagues, we have championed a more rigorous equity-framed approach to analyzing data. One noteworthy accomplishment has been the adoption of the relative risk ratio as a lens for understanding how disparities manifest in our district. This analytical tool has allowed us to make tangible progress toward identifying inequitable practices and replacing them with ones that are culturally responsive to ensure that all students have the opportunity to thrive.
In this upcoming BOE election, we have much at stake as a community. We are on the cusp of a critical transition, moving from equity in theory to equity in practice. This shift represents a defining moment for our district, and it requires us to be thoughtful and deliberate in our choices.
It is essential to acknowledge that, as we strive for true equity, some individuals who have historically held privilege may perceive it as a loss. As we work towards rightsizing the system to create new conditions where all children have the opportunity to succeed, we must understand the challenges and nuances of this process. In our bubble of SOMA, it can be difficult to recognize views and actions that could jeopardize the hard-earned progress we have made, albeit slow at times. Now, more than ever, we need strong and resolute BOE members who will remain steadfastly focused on the goal of educational equity, and we must not waver in our commitment to place the most marginalized and underserved students and families at the center of every decision we make.
I urge each and every one of you to actively engage in this BOE election. Seek out candidates who have demonstrated a clear dedication to equity, justice, collaboration and inclusivity. Look for individuals who can decipher the complexities and pitfalls of progress and who will unapologetically make the tough decisions required to propel us forward on this journey.
As I near the end of my BOE service, I am deeply grateful and fulfilled. Serving on the Board of Education has been an incredible honor, and I eagerly anticipate the continued growth and success of our educational community.