To the editor,
I am excited to endorse Susie Adamson, Stephanie Lawson-Muhammad, and James Davis III as candidates for the South Orange-Maplewood Board of Education in this November’s election.
I am currently in my first term serving on the Board of Education. We need Board members who can collaborate effectively, do the necessary prep work to ask the right questions, and maintain an eye on the bigger picture, while making sure the details get done right. I feel Susie, Stephanie and James have those qualities and are the best people to support that work as we continue to move forward.
I have known Susie for many years as a volunteer and advocate for all of our students. Her tag line “1 District. 100%” sums up her drive to make decisions based on what is good for all 100% of students. She instinctively knows that the success of our district is dependent upon how well we serve and engage each and every student and family. I admire Susie for asking the tough and thoughtful questions and never settling for the reason “because that is how it has always been!” Susie also lives and breathes inclusion and bridge building to people with whom she disagrees. Even when she disagrees with someone, she is willing to challenge an idea without challenging the person. I look forward to serving with her on the Board of Education.
Stephanie and I have served on the Board’s Equity and Excellence committee together since January. During our committee meetings, it is clear that she is passionate about making the district work for all children. Stephanie has the ability to guide decision-making by reasoning about necessary trade-offs in priorities and resources. This is an invaluable skill set that we need to keep on the Board for the next three years as the district continues to do more — and for more students — with fewer resources.
I have only known James a short time, but I am most impressed with his ability to clarify any issue/problem, probe for real understanding, research potential solutions, and then synthesize this information into a framework for moving forward. James makes clear that he does not approach any given proposal as a “right” or “wrong” way of solving a problem. Instead he wants to have meaningful dialogue and build consensus as we continue on the path to make the schools work for all students. This approach will be valuable on the Board.
When candidates run for the Board of Education they all want to help “fix” the district. Once sworn in, new Board members experience the rude awakening that the problems are harder than any one person can solve. Making our schools better is hard and frustrating work and requires people who are committed to arriving at consensus without sacrificing their own points of view.
We have the painful challenge of balancing a necessary sense of urgency about so many issues with patient, sober judgment and the realization that it cannot all be fixed at once. I think Susie, Stephanie and James have the necessary commitment, patience and judgment to help us meet our biggest challenges in the years ahead and I urge you to join me in voting for them on November 8.