To the Editor:
I am writing to endorse the school board candidacy of James Davis III and Stephanie Lawson-Muhammad. Stephanie is completing her first three-year term and running for re-election. James is a first-time candidate.
I moved to the South Orange-Maplewood School District over ten (10) years ago and have closely followed the work of our local school board. Over that time, successive Boards have repeatedly voiced the intention to make ours a district that serves all children well, but have had difficulty realizing that vision.
In the last few years, major turnover in administrative and school leadership has created understandable concerns about where we are headed, and I share those concerns. The hiring of Dr. Ramos a year ago gives me hope for improvement, but only if we can elect a Board capable of working effectively with him to achieve the types of reforms necessary to make our district serve all its children.
We have a choice in this election, with five candidates running for three seats. I attended the School Board Candidate forum in September and studied each candidate’s platform. I believe that James and Stephanie present the clearest way forward for our schools. They understand the needs of our children, and possess the experiences necessary to bring a reasoned approach to the complicated issues of our school district. I enthusiastically support their candidacy.
In particular, I have been impressed by their understanding that only a combination of operational effectiveness and inspirational educational leadership will foster the types of long-term cultural change that make school work for every child. They understand that serving the needs of our high achieving students while also providing the necessary support and encouragement to those who are struggling are not a contradiction in terms.
Further, they understand that all of this must be accomplished in the constraints of a tight school budget, requiring careful stewardship and hard choices by our Board of Education. That is not an easy task, but their professional backgrounds make them well-suited to that aspect of Board service.
I encourage all voters to research the platforms of all School Board candidates (for theirs, see www.boe2016.com). I am confident that they will reach the same conclusion as I have — that the election of James Davis III and Stephanie Lawson-Muhammad represents the best chance we have for putting our district on a solid course to serve all children well.