Election Government Maplewood Opinion Schools / Kids South Orange Towns

LETTER: Three Votes, No Contest — Pai, Eastman & Freedson for Board of Ed

To the Editor:

The South Orange-Maplewood School District has had a year of unprecedented evolution. We’ve changed out the superintendent, replaced five school principals, negotiated a multi-year contract with teachers and created an open and transparent process for ensuring access and equity for all of our 6,000 students – to name only a few challenges and opportunities.

None of this could be managed seamlessly and without disruption to the educational excellence expected from our schools without the unparalleled and unwavering leadership of Madhu Pai and Wayne Eastman.

With the Board of Education election set for Tuesday, November 3, voters certainly have options in this contested race. But there are no reasonable alternatives to the incumbents Pai and Eastman. A future without their experience, leadership and level-headedness would be highly unfortunate for our District. And, to round out their “Excellence in Education” offering, Pai and Eastman have carefully vetted and recruited Peggy Freedson as their partner on the School Board.

As highly effective, sitting Board members, Pai and Eastman have been tested and emerged the better for it. And, Freedson, with her professional career dedicated to educational curriculum, serves as complement to their efforts. Expect these three to continue making meaningful and important progress around governance and improving academics. And, expect more thoughtful debate and a willingness to bridge the divide on education issues.

What impresses me most about these three is their reasoned tone and willingness to push back on untested pedagogy and programs to demand measurement and refinement at the start of any new program or initiative. Above all else, these three live and breathe their responsibilities as public servants, and will insist that all programs and changes must first serve all students regardless of ability or favored school status.

I congratulate the challengers. But, compared to Wayne, Madhu, and Peggy, they have lesser experience, narrow platforms and fewer of the leadership skills necessary to navigate and oversee a hundred million dollar organization.  There is no contest this year.

Your voice is vital and I urge you to vote with me for Madhu Pai, Wayne Eastman and Peggy Freedson.

Marian Cutler
South Orange

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