November 23, 2022

BOE Candidate Rafalovsky Thanks Supporters; Says Community Should Work Together, Demand More

To the Editor:

I’m humbled by the support and warmth of so many neighbors across the community who shared my concerns. Even though I didn’t win, I stood up for educational principles widely shared by thousands of Princeton taxpayers, and I was able to raise public awareness about Princeton Public Schools’ declining math proficiency scores, falling national rankings, and our disappointing performance across multiple equity indicators. My platform resonated with 3,485 voters (count as of November 21) who are unhappy with the status quo, placing me just 4 percentage points behind an incumbent. I hope this in itself sends a strong message to all members of the School Board — to whom I wish nothing but the best. 

The Board of Education and PPS leadership have a tough road ahead. This school year’s theme is Healing, Helping, and Hope. I welcome the opportunity to learn more specifics about how those ideals translate into improving Princeton High School (PHS) math scores (51 percent math proficiency at PHS); lower chronic absenteeism rates (47 percent of Black or African American and Hispanic or Latino American students are chronically absent from PHS, 58 percent of English language learners, and 63 percent of low-income students); and improve graduation rates for English learners, which dropped to 67 percent in 2020-21 from 88 percent in 2019-20. Furthermore, according to the consulting company hired by PPS, less than 20 percent of Latino PHS students feel that they belong, and less than 25 percent felt comfortable being themselves at school or that there was at least one adult who cared about them. 

As PPS leadership stated in last week’s letter to parents, every student deserves opportunities to be seen and to succeed. I couldn’t agree more. How will we get there? Our students deserve to see an action plan and a stakeholder communication plan. The current version of the district strategic plan does not address these areas of concern. How will we lift everyone up, as promised in the letter?

Dear parents and caring community members: I hoped to lead the way on the School Board to demand district transparency and leadership accountability that taxpayers and PPS students deserve. The thousands of votes I received prove there are many of you out there that want this too. It’s now up to everyone that cares to work together, speak up at meetings, and demand more.

Rita Rafalovsky
Library Place