November 2, 2022

Think Shipping Containers When Casting Your Vote in School Board Election

To the Editor:

The School Board election is only one week away. When we choose our representatives to lead our school district, we should think about shipping containers. Let me explain.

Since its invention in the mid-20th century, standardized shipping containers probably have done more than anything in shaping the economic and political landscape of the world today. The era of globalization ushered in by the container shipping industry also relentlessly exposed the weakness of the K-12 education in the U.S. For a long time, the majority of the high school graduates received enough education to work in a factory and earn a wage that could support a family. However, when a pair of sneakers could be shipped in a container from China to the U.S. for less than 25 cents, workers in the U.S. were no longer protected by geography. For many of these workers who lost out in the global labor force competition, the education they received didn’t prepare them well enough to acquire new marketable skills and regain full participation in society. That was the mistake our public education must not repeat.

Parents, educators, and policymakers should expect that students today will encounter their generation’s “shipping container” in their lifetimes. Is it artificial intelligence? Will college-educated white-collar professionals be at risk? We won’t know for sure. But the only way to better prepare our students for the inevitable technology disruptions is to help them build a solid foundation of knowledge and become lifelong learners.

Board of Education candidate Rita Rafalovsky understands the urgent need to restore PPS’ focus on excellence. As a first-time candidate, the amount of effort she puts in to understand the performance, operations, and planning process of our school district is truly remarkable. And it showed in the comments she made at various candidate forums. Mrs. Rafalovsky has well-thought-out ideas on how to improve our school district. Her prior experience in banking and management consulting would be a valuable asset in guiding PPS’ planning process, making data-driven decisions and benchmarking performance. Mrs. Rafalovsky also understands that pursuing excellence doesn’t have to come at the expense of the well-being of students and maintaining academic rigor isn’t about coddling a few precocious students. Instead, it’s about giving all students the best opportunity to succeed and find purposes in life.

I admire Mrs. Ravalovsky’s courage and determination to take on the challenge. This is no easy task. But if there is one place in the nation where substantial improvement in public education can happen it would be Princeton, one of the most-educated towns in the country and a community that has generously supported our schools. Let’s lead the way and elect Mrs. Rita Rafalovsky to School Board.

Jian Chen
Stone Cliff Road