BOE Candidates Jones and Baker Join Forces

by The Village Green
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Elizabeth Baker (left) and Maureen Jones have announced a joint campaign for the South Orange-Maplewood Board of Education.

Elizabeth Baker (left) and Maureen Jones have announced a joint campaign for the South Orange-Maplewood Board of Education.

Maureen Jones and Elizabeth Baker announced today that they will run a joint campaign for two of the three open seats on the South Orange-Maplewood Board of Education in this November’s election.

Jones and Baker are two of six candidates who have declared to run for three available seats on the Board of Education. The other candidates are Anthony Mazzocchi, Dr. Godwin Molokwu, Donna Smith and Elissa Malespina. Smith and Malespina are running jointly as well.

Jones and Baker said today that they have formed a joint candidates’ committee to officially launch their campaign.

The campaign issued the following press statement:

“We are joining together to run as a team for the South Orange-Maplewood Board of Education because we agree on a common educational vision for our school district. We have good public schools here in our unique community, but we believe they must become even better. And we believe our complementary experience, skills and backgrounds can help move the district forward.

“With the major initiatives already underway, the district is poised to offer our students a world-class experience that more consistently provides the rigor, challenge and opportunity they all deserve. But these changes are not simple and they won’t happen overnight. We need patience and persistence, and we need to learn from both our successes and our struggles in the classroom.

“We need a district where no child is bored, whether he or she is a high achiever or a struggling learner. We want a district where children are seen — really seen — and understood as they are today and as the learners they can become. We believe this vision is achievable, but it will require a continuing commitment from the Board of Education, the administration, our teachers and our community. We need to hire a superintendent who shares this vision and has the commitment, expertise and experience to make it a reality.

“We know teachers make the difference in the classroom. With the recent changes in curriculum and assessment we need to make sure our teachers feel confident and supported. We need to identify best practices, create a collaborative atmosphere and adopt reasonable implementation timeframes to enable teachers to master the new approaches.

“Parents must be full partners in their children’s education. Better information needs to be provided to parents in ways they can access hassle-free. Our schools should actively listen to and learn from parent feedback.

“Our school system is essential to the long-term vitality of our community; as such, we must demonstrate that the district is an efficient and effective steward of our tax dollars. We need a more transparent budget process and consistent year-round, community outreach to demonstrate the benefit of every dollar spent.”

Maureen Jones, a four-year resident of Maplewood, is an educator who works with special needs children, specializing in speech and language pathology. She has worked with children from birth through age 12 in a variety of settings, including preschool programs, public schools, community health delivery and home-based services. A parent of two girls at Clinton Elementary School, Jones served as President of the school’s PTA this past year and as Vice-President for the 2012-2013 school year.

Read The Village Green’s interview with Jones here.

Elizabeth Baker, a twelve-year resident of Maplewood, is the parent of two girls, one a Tuscan Elementary student and the other a rising seventh-grader at Maplewood Middle School. She served on the Tuscan Elementary School PTA Board from 2010 to 2012 and as the PTA’s Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) co-chair during the 2012-13 school year. In spring 2014, Baker served on the Schools Subcommittee of the Maplewood Citizens’ Budget Advisory Committee, reviewing the school budget. Professionally, Baker is an associate general counsel of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 32BJ in New York City, with experience in financial oversight, negotiations, and governance.

Read The Village Green’s interview with Baker here.

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