April 5, 2023

BOE’s Lack of Agenda Has Pushed Schools to Chaos, Legal Battlefield

To the Editor:

By now, many Princeton residents have heard about the chaos at Princeton Public Schools (PPS). If you have not, I hope you start to pay attention: On top of a deteriorating school district, the schools are literally in chaos. This will eventually hit everyone’s property value if not controlled.

One of the big reasons for this chaos is the Board of Education’s (BOE) agenda: We just don’t know if it has one. The BOE keeps saying that they don’t have an agenda. But do they, and should they? I think they should have at least one: be good to kids, and that should be a given. Besides that, here are a few other things I would like the BOE and PPS administration to have, or consider having, aside from being nice to our kids in school:

The stability of the entire school district; the well-being of families in the district they serve; the smooth operation of every school; keeping good people and real educators with us; and not making parents angry and showing up at BOE meetings in the hundreds with signs after their busy working days. So far, I don’t see that the BOE, and the PPS administration, have any of those in mind. The action, or lack of actions, of this BOE in the past 20 months or so has failed to show all of the above.

So here we are, the BOE’s arrogant “process,” silence enabled by “following regulation,” and their willingness to keep the district in chaos have finally been exposed in public. The deterioration is everywhere: student’s mental health at PHS, academic performance, the unity of community, the morale of school employees, and everything beyond.

There is one important thing that BOE is missing: They actually work for us, the Princeton taxpayers. When they bring the district attorney to the BOE meetings facing their own constituents, they are trying to protect themselves. They are trained to believe that they work for the regulation and believe they work for the only employee that they hire and manage on our behalf. The good part of this is: regulations are a double-sided sword, they not only protect the BOE’s silence, but also protect our rights.

At this time, it looks like we have run out of options for the BOE to actually listen to us. And I am OK to go through a short period of chaos change for the long-term good and stability of the school district.

Shenwei Zhao
Prospect Avenue