Letter to Editor: Pai, Eastman & Freedson Dedicated to ‘Equity & Access’

by The Village Green
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To the Editor:

We are residents of Maplewood and have two children in our town’s public schools. We are writing to offer our enthusiastic support to South Orange-Maplewood Board of Education candidates Wayne Eastman, Madhu Pai, and Margaret (Peggy) Freedson.

Wayne, Madhu and Peggy possess an impressive command of the many issues facing our school district, including: the budget, safety, achievement gaps, communication, and equitable access to curriculum.  Their concrete and substantive ideas for addressing these issues are unparalleled by any other candidates.

We are particularly impressed with the dedication all three candidates have shown to establishing equitable access to curriculum, and we are thrilled with their recent successes in this area. We believe, as Madhu said at the Hilton debate, our district is “on the cusp of something great” with respect to equity, access and student achievement, and we need Madhu, Wayne and Peggy as BOE members to help get us there.

Our district’s transformation from a good district to one that is excellent for all has in fact already begun, thanks largely to the leadership of Wayne, who is serving as Board President, and Madhu, who is serving as First Vice President.

While many may be aware of Wayne’s and Madhu’s leadership in the superintendent search that successfully concluded with the hiring, by unanimous Board vote, of Dr. John Ramos, everyone should be aware of their leadership in making Excellence and Equity a reality for all students. The “Equity and Access” policy that Wayne drafted, and that Wayne and Madhu have championed since their candidacy in 2012, allows students to choose their educational trajectory, unhindered by gatekeeping policies.  Wayne and Madhu’s dedication to all students is also evidenced by the policy’s significant promise to provide academic support for students who wish to access advanced-level courses, as well as its commitment to offer a rigorous curriculum for every single course taught K-12.  To their credit, all Board members have expressed support for this policy, which represents a momentous step toward providing an excellent education to all of our district’s students.

Peggy, a 1987 graduate of UC Berkeley with a M.Ed. in International Education and a Doctor of Education in Language and Literacy from Harvard, is a professional educator with particular expertise in literacy and education equity.

Peggy began her career as a bilingual teacher of elementary aged students in Los Angeles. Since 2003 Peggy has been a full-time faculty member at Montclair State charged with preparing preschool and elementary teacher candidates for teaching language arts literacy.

Peggy’s professional background makes her uniquely qualified to support the “Equity and Access” policy which will, with proper implementation, deliver an excellent literacy and language arts education starting in kindergarten. Peggy’s curriculum expertise will be a tremendous asset as we aim for a stellar K-5 curriculum that sets our students up for 6-12 success.

We believe electing Madhu, Wayne and Peggy is critically important to ensuring that the “Equity and Access” policy is implemented in a way that achieves its mission of empowering all students to succeed. Madhu and Wayne’s mastery of the budget and Peggy’s curriculum and professional development expertise are indispensable skills our BOE needs as it strives to keep its commitment to our students in the face of budget constraints, a tax-stressed community, facilities issues, and other competing needs.

We hope that you will join us in supporting the candidacy of these three exceptional members of our community.  Please vote PEF on November 3rd.  To learn more about their platform, please visit their website at www.boe2015.com.

Thank you very much,

Vincent Foley and Morgan Hillis

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