LETTER: Kaitlin Wittleder Is Committed to Rebuilding Our School System

by Peter Shapiro
0 FacebookTwitterPinterestEmail

Five candidates are vying for three seats on the 9-member South Orange-Maplewood Board of Education on November 2, 2021: Shannon Cuttle (incumbent), William RodriguezQawi TelesfordArun Vadlamani and Kaitlin Wittleder. Terms are for three years. 

Kaitlin Wittleder

Dear Editor:

I’m writing to offer my endorsement for Kaitlin Wittleder’s election to the South Orange-Maplewood Board of Education. I’ve had the chance to get to know Kaitlin over the last several years, and she is a person of sincere commitment to our students, with a willingness to work selflessly to improve our schools and the education they provide to all of our students.

Since I left office as County Executive in 1986, I have rarely gotten involved in local elections. But this one is different for two key reasons. First, I feel our School Board has gotten off on the wrong track for several years, too often dominated by ego conflicts and narrow agendas, to the detriment of what should be the Board’s fundamental mission: excellent education. Second, I believe that in Kaitlin Wittleder, we have the opportunity to elect an exceptional person to the Board who will help begin the arduous process of rebuilding a Board that we can once again have confidence in.

I grew up in South Orange and have lived here for 58 years. My parents moved here from Millburn because the South Orange-Maplewood schools were known to be the best in the state. When I attended Columbia High School, it was better than any private school around, sending its graduates to the best colleges and universities in the nation.

Kaitlin is committed to rebuilding our school system so it is once again renowned for the excellence of the education it provides. She believes that our school district’s diversity is a source of strength, with an amazing array of talented students of all backgrounds who can and will respond to being challenged by the finest teachers.

On the key issues of education equity, she is a standout. Of the five candidates running for the Board this year, she is one of only two given an A rating by SOMA Justice and PARES, outdoing the other candidates by a surprisingly wide margin. Kaitlin is particularly determined to take on our District’s long-standing educational achievement gap by emphasizing early educational enrichment so all students will have a chance to start from a level playing field. Improving South Orange-Maplewood’s special education offerings will be a particular focus of her attention, with an emphasis on better staffing, data collection, compliance with legal mandates, and resources for our most vulnerable students.

Our schools, and the education of our young people, are arguably the most important thing we do as a community. As citizens, we have an obligation to put the best people possible on our Board of Ed. Electing Kaitlin Wittleder will help us fulfill that obligation. Please give her your vote.

Peter Shapiro

South Orange, NJ

Related Articles