To the editor:
It is my honor to write this letter in support of my neighbor, fellow SOMSD parent and friend, Marian Raab, in her bid to run for South Orange Maplewood Board of Education. Marian is running on a well-rounded slate of Maplewood/South Orange residents including Shannel Roberts and Elissa Malespina—Team SOMA 2015.
I have known Marian since I moved to Maplewood in 2006. As a fellow Tuscan Elementary, and now Maplewood Middle School parent, I have a witnessed with admiration her willingness to speak up and take action when she feels there is an important issue to address. At Tuscan, Marian helped worked with the Tuscan Safety Committee along with other parents in reaction to the chaotic and dangerous traffic patterns outside of the school in the morning.
In her role on this committee, Marian helped facilitate a community partnership with the Maplewood police department and helped enhance signage around the school as well as communication with parents on safety issues. You may have seen her yourself, logging many hours in front of the school in a bright yellow vest to help keep Tuscan students safe.
In addition to advocating for change at her children’s local school, Marian has used her talents for the benefit the entire district. In 2011-12, she challenged the application of the Hua Mei Mandarin immersion charter school application, which while its creation may have benefitted a few, would have drained scarce resources from our already overstretched but high quality schools. She organized a community awareness campaign that included petitions as well as a local rally that included former N.J. Gov. Richard Codey as one of the speakers. Marian has frequently travelled to Trenton to protest the lack of local control over charter school applications.
When Maplewood Middle School faced a lock down and security crisis at the end of the 2014-15 school year, Marian, along with running mate Elissa Malespina and others, organized parents quickly with the new group they founded together—South Orange Maplewood Parents for a Quality Education—to assist in engaging parents, school and local officials, in productive dialogue regarding the safety of our schools, among other issues. Marian is an outspoken advocate for our public schools, present at many Board of Education meetings and community forums voicing support for the concerns of the Maplewood/South Orange community.
Finally, I know Marian as a woman of integrity, intelligence and clarity of thought. She is an eloquent speaker who as a trained lawyer, is well prepared to advocate for our students and their families. As a financial journalist and editor, she is familiar with the financial challenges the district faces, understands the causes and is able to propose solutions. She is passionate about public education, is determined and has the fortitude to follow through for our students and their families.
Raab, Roberts and Malespina are talented, passionate SOMSD parents with experience in education, communication and advocacy, representing the full diversity of our district. I urge you to join me in voting for Raab, Roberts and Malespina –Team SOMA 2015 – on November 3!
Elise Butkiewicz, M.D.