October 26, 2022

BOE Candidate Rita Rafalovsky Offers a New Perspective for PPS

To the Editor:

Like many fellow Princeton residents, working from home through the pandemic has allowed me to get a closer understanding of my children’s education.  The curriculum, the teachers, the administrators, and those that plan for our future.

There’s no question Princeton’s existing BOE are caring, hardworking people. I’m concerned they don’t always care about the things that matter to me and some of what’s been taking place at Princeton Public Schools needs to change. That is why this year I am voting for Rita Rafalovsky to join our School Board.

Rita didn’t set out to get voted into office. She’s a local parent, an experienced consultant, and a smart, hardworking person who is not willing to just watch things happen. As the school district began the process of developing a strategic plan that will guide the future, Rita noticed that several things were out of alignment. She seeks to change that.

The status quo is no longer acceptable. Keeping the same people on the BOE simply because they are nice and work hard isn’t helping our children. There’s been a lot of talk in the past year recognizing that better supports and systems need to be put into place for certain groups of students. But it’s been a lot of talk. PPS still hasn’t hired enough Spanish-speaking aides, as has been repeatedly requested. PPS still makes it incredibly difficult (unless you have your own way to fund it) for students to get tested and get the Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) they need to guide them to success despite their needs. In fact, at PHS this year, one co-taught class, intended to help students that have documented difficulty in math, has had many classes taught by YouTube, as a sub fills the days until the permanent teacher can start.

In addition, parents had to fight to ensure that AP classes aren’t dropped and hope that funds remain to support the amazing research track some students are on which was spearheaded by a strong science supervisor that felt compelled to leave our district.

Hiring teachers is difficult nationwide, but PPS needs to make sure we’re not just filling holes but we’re seeking the best. Math scores have been dropping for years, students aren’t feeling supported, and the reputation of Princeton schools is not what it used to be. Our district is quick to ensure that we meet the state mandate on sex education while we’ve completely dropped the mandate on Holocaust education. Our district is quick to push for equity, a desirable goal, but has yet to define what that means and ensuring we’re being fair and impartial to all. 

A recent Town Topics letter to the editor described why we shouldn’t be concerned with our declining rankings and test scores.  Really?  At what point should we be concerned? At the 50th percentile?  40th?  30th?

Our district needs a new perspective. One that has been studying and learning about other districts and how we can bring their best practices here. Our district needs Rita.

Bret Jacknow
Farrand Road