September 16, 2020

Watching for Candidates Who Will Think and Act Fairly, intelligently, and With Sensitivity

To the Editor:

While I’m thrilled to see so many candidates for the Board of Education (BoE), I fear splitting the vote, i.e., not changing anything. Voters have tried for years to elect a community-supportive BoE majority. The odds are tough because the BoE’s mailing list dependably covers a majority of those who actually vote.

(This year’s vote is all mail-in. In-person votes will be provisional votes, subject to rejection on technicalities. If you want your vote to count, vote the moment your ballot arrives. Call the Mercer County Board of Elections the following week at (609) 989-6773 to be sure it’s counted.)

Because this BoE needs a new majority, ready to work on January 1, I have listened for all eight candidates’ views on the BoE’s 2018-2020 accomplishments. Here’s a review:

Although Cranbury residents pay less in school taxes while you pay more and more, the BoE majority voted to accept Cranbury’s 280 students for no additional contribution, and to expand PHS to accommodate them.

The majority passed that $29M bond for “critical” fixes including $330K for a concession stand, six toilets (for sports events at PHS although the industry standard is one-two;, outdoor water fountains (useless in winter), and baseball dugouts.

Although BoE presidents start public meetings by promising “joy and learning for all students,” opportunity gaps persist for all but the luckiest. Teachers and parents alike report abuses — failures to see systemic shortcomings that might require little to resolve. Yet the current majority supported a “chain of command” that sends complaints to the top, where teachers and families report that they got no response.

BoE’s are elected to be informed leaders, to advise and, yes, supervise the superintendent of schools. Yet one member of the majority recently voted “Yes,” claiming not to “know enough” about the issue to vote “No.”

It’s time to fill all three available seats for a BoE that doesn’t accept received wisdom. The BoE has 10 members. It needs a majority of six who are sensible, independent, and therefore unbeatable, and fix the gaps in opportunity and achievement for students of all colors, of all income and skill levels. The schools know which children are suffering because they alone know every child’s grades. And they need not just to nod heads and agree, but to change!

Pick your three candidates in the row of eight for the BoE — it’s not at the top of the page. Use all three of your votes: your choices affect your town, your taxes, your neighbor’s child.

Three seats, three votes — a strong new majority.

I’m watching for three candidates who will think and act fairly, intelligently, and with sensitivity for those most in need. Our country and our economy need schools that meet our promise: lives of joy and learning for all students.

Mary Clurman
Harris Road