The Village Green has invited all five candidates for the South Orange – Maplewood Board of Education to submit statements for publication, which we will run as we receive them.
I listen to you, I listen to your children, I listen to teachers, I listen to administrators and board members,…. and then I act.
For some, I give a voice on your issues. For others, I give you the strength to speak up against the bullying and intimidation you see inflicted on children. Many of you have even emailed me privately, about sensitive issues like your child being harassed, intimidated, or bullied on and off school property. Collectively, you have let me know, this is a concern to be corrected. I agree.
The words ‘listen’ and ‘silent’ have the same letters. I am silent while listening, but I am not silent when it comes to defending the people I have been elected to serve.
My voting record speaks for itself. A few examples:
I voted against allowing bullying and intimidation in our school district… every time it came before the board.
I voted to remove the International Baccalaureate (IB) program from our school district, because it was failing our students.
I voted to question items in our school budgets such as the pool and against budgets for which we did not get satisfactory answers, even from our school auditors and BOE Finance Committee.
I voted to keep librarians and restore our nationally acclaimed library services.
I voted against implementing an English curriculum, which would put all of our students at a disadvantage.
You will find many more examples, if you look up my voting record. And, I am more than happy to answer questions why I voted as I did. Each time I voted, know it was after researching the issue and applying my many years of teaching and coaching experience in our school district. It was to do what was right for our school community and our children. Ask the children…. and then listen to what they say.
I am running for a second term because I want to continue advocating on behalf of concerned parents, our community and most importantly, our students. A few ways would be to introduce and sponsor initiatives such as:
- A new process to recruit and retain experienced and qualified staff and eliminate or at least minimize the exodus of staff
- Involve teachers’ voices in developing professional development
- Implement guidelines and procedures before policies are voted on…so these new programs actually work.
- Introduce more shared services, such as health insurance, to lower both our School taxes and the Municipal taxes of both our towns
- Investigate new revenue sources as a receiving school district, to also reduce our taxes
- Protect our students and staff by eliminating the root causes that have been putting their safety at risk…not disguising those causes with “band aid” solutions.
For me, serving as a member of the school board has always been about acting in the best interest of our children and our community. Truth, trust and voting one’s conscience, are core values for me and it is how I conduct my duties as a board member. I don’t like lies, I don’t like duplicity. I will rail against it.
Why do I rail against it? Because I think you are worth it. I think your children are worth it, our school district is worth it… Don’t you?
Those values were reinforced at the BOE’s recent July, 2016 retreat. As a body, the BOE was told several times:
- we are elected to vote our conscience, not vote in one voice.
- we are elected to support our school district and our community.
The entire school staff, including administrators and teachers alike, are hired to support the Board in accomplishing this objective.
I will not collude by silence when a voice needs to speak out for you. In life, “…one must do the right thing, not just the easy thing …” to get along.
May this year, with this new insight and for some new knowledge acquired on our retreat, empower us all to cooperate and have the courage to do the right thing.
Coach Johanna Wright