To the Editor:
South Orange Maplewood Education Association is proud to announce that our members are endorsing Team SOMA 2015 – Marian Raab, Shannel Roberts and Elissa Malespina – in their campaign for three seats on the South Orange Maplewood Board of Education.
This is the first time in over a decade SOMEA has endorsed candidates for the Board of Ed. We were moved to do so by Marian, Shannel and Elissa’s strong commitment to students, teachers and public education. Team SOMA 2015’s main platform points of Communication, Common Sense and Courage resonates with our members, who have chosen a profession dedicated to educating children.
Marian, Shannel and Elissa’s children all attend South Orange and Maplewood public schools and they have been outspoken advocates for improving our school system, spending countless hours at Board meetings that frequently stretch long into the night. During these meetings, these three women have had the courage to ask the Board tough questions about critical issues and demand more transparency from our elected public officials.
Team SOMA 2015 has also been open with parents and educators alike about their ideas for improving our school district, starting with the Board Education moving to two meetings a month so that the public can be present and more involved when important policy and fiscal decisions are made. For example, the current Board voted at nearly 1:00 a.m. this past spring to remove the failed International Baccalaureate program from the middle schools. Dozens of middle school teachers, and others, testified in front of the Board for over three years that IB was not working.
If elected, Marian, Shannel and Elissa would not have waited so long to finally admit that a program the district spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to implement was not working. Team SOMA 2015 will collaborate with parents, teachers and administrators to make sure that the district’s over $120 million annual school budget is spent wisely and in the best interests of our students. They will also work to make sure that teacher have the necessary training and support they need to help our students grow.
With approximately one-third of our staff members being residents, we know that changes on the Board of Ed will affect not only our members as staff of the district, but their families on a personal level as well. We are very excited to support Marian, Shannel and Elissa and look forward to the changes in communication, accountability and transparency they will bring to the Board of Education.
Paula Bethea, President, SOMEA