Dr. Godwin Molokwu, a South Orange resident and board certified gastroenterologist with a practice in Irvington, is running for one of three seats on the South Orange-Maplewood Board of Education. Molokwu is facing three other candidates: Elizabeth Baker, Maureen Jones and Donna Smith. Watch video of the first candidates forum here.
Terms are for three years. The election takes place on November 4.
Dr. Molokwu has submitted the following candidate statement to The Village Green:
I want to change our school system so it is the best in the state. I am proud to run for an office where I will be a caretaker of the most valuable thing in our lives, our children’s education. I have four children who attend school in this district. My wife Lillian and I chose this community because of the schools, safety and diversity. I have the expertise as a husband, father, medical specialist and former educator to ensure our schools are better than any of the private and charter schools in New Jersey. Our children’s education should be the finest and our homes should be sought after by the home buying public.
I am extremely disappointed by the nearly 50 place drop in our high school ranking. I am sickened by the recent headlines depicting grave problems in our school district. If I am elected to the board, I will be your voice and ensure we increase access and success in AP classes, select a competent superintendent, maintain excellent teachers in our classrooms, decrease expenditures for administrative and outside contractors, improve special education services and improve school lunch nutrition.
We can increase AP subject areas and AP class capacity. We can bring honors and AP mathematics and other subjects to our middle schools. If I am elected to the board, I will stop the placement of our top middle school students to the high school for geometry and advanced algebra. I don’t think they should be in the high school, alone. They are too young. I will work to bring geometry, advanced algebra and other advanced subjects to the middle school. We can not limit our children’s education to the common core, they should only be limited by their motivation and imagination.
The most important issue we have as a community will be to select new leadership for the next decade. We know what we need as a community. We can’t rely on consultants as we have in the past. Consultants have given us entry level administrators who view this district as a line on their resumes. We need leadership who understand Maplewood and South Orange. We need leadership who understand our expectations of our children. We need a leadership who recognizes our special education students are amazing young people who can strive for excellence on a daily basis. We need a leader who is willing to support our world class track, fencing, arts and robotics programs. New leadership has to show that they understand what it takes to implement school improvement plans, include parents and successfully turn around focus schools. We need leadership who can prepare our children to excel on the new assessments instead of preparing our children for failure.
We need our new superintendent to have a history of excellent communication with parents and the community. If I am elected to the board, our board members, parents, teachers, and staff will be sent to districts that our candidates come from to get first hand knowledge of their leadership style.
I will bring my experience as a professional educator who has taught economically disadvantaged youth and prepared them for college and career success. I then put myself through medical school with the help of my brother and achieved board certification, and specialization in gastroenterology. I have been a hard worker whose daily job it is to solve problems. In my medical practice, I identify problems, use advanced technologies to diagnose and treat patients. I do all of this as soon as possible. My patients can not wait endlessly for care just as our children can not wait endlessly for the help that they need to succeed. If I wait too long to treat a patient the results can be disastrous. Our children should not wait an entire school year to get the help they need either. If I am elected to the board, it won’t be business as usual. I will be a board member whom you can call on when you have an issue and I will require an administrative response.
I am not afraid to speak up and demand accountability. If I am elected to the board I will not accept another serious problem coming out on national media with a feeble administrative and absent board response.
When you elect me to the South Orange Maplewood Board of Education, I will not lose site of the most important job we have this year, selecting an experienced leader. A vote for me will ensure we take our time and not rush our superintendent search. I will not agree with the consultants who have suggested we hire a neophyte that can learn on the job. I am not afraid to determine our ideal candidate. He or she will already have experience in turning around focus and failing schools. He or she will already have experience in communicating our needs of our school system to federal, state, and local governments, parents and the community. I will look for a leader who knows what is going on in the schools, and has experience in visiting schools in his or her district. I will look for a leader whom I can call or email and get a timely response. I am not afraid to tell administration what Maplewood and South Orange need in our schools. I am not afraid to hold the administration accountable. When you vote for me, I will be your voice. I will be a Board of Education member who will ensure quality education for all.
Godwin Molokwu, MD