Op-Ed: You’ve got to be kidding me

On the night of Tuesday October 29, I attended the official ribbon cutting for the new Science Labs at Plainfield High School. This festive occasion featured the Superintendent of Schools Anna Belin-Pyles, PHS Principal Otis Brown, and Board President Wilma Campbell. Not only did we get to tour the brand new science labs, but we were treated to presentations from students about the material they have covered so far this year. These students will receive, according to Principal Brown, between six and twelve college credits before graduating high school. Additionally, this program builds on partnerships with Rutgers, UMDNJ, and pharmaceutical companies, more of which are being added to the mix.

sciencelab

One of the new science labs

Mrs. Belin-Pyles thanked the school board, noting that without them, such a large undertaking would not have been possible. Board President Campbell called the occasion “a celebration for all of us,” noting that “the dynamic, the culture of our schools, something is changing”.

honors

Even for an individual who follows the school board, and a School Board candidate nonetheless, this occasion hammered home how things really are beginning to change here in Plainfield’s Schools. I’ll spare you a rundown of all improvements and ideas in this relatively short piece, and leave that for campaign literature and the like. Do know that those who want you to believe that these schools and its board are on a downward trend are merely not telling the truth. In fact, the governance rating has improved from a dismal 11% only a few years ago to over 85% now. We should especially celebrate that the trend has changed considering we are only a few years removed from the Gallon controversy that sent our district backwards.

Of course, this positive change exists with the ever-present, external threat of regression.

Political agents who have all the tools, allies, and intent to capitalize from our education system have always wanted to grab the reigns of Plainfield’s Schools – that’s nothing new. Now, however, they have charted new territory in the depths of depravity. It seems that now they are willing to give control of our Public Schools to just about anyone.

candidates

All six candidates at Wednesday’s LWV forum

On the night of Wednesday, October 30, voters were able to see both teams in full view for the second time, the first being at the NAACP forum on Sunday, October 27. For a young man like myself, these forums are also a learning experience, as I’ve never participated before. The brighter lights made me a little nervous compared to my showing at the homey-feeling Elks, which some audience members who I met called a home run. It was nonetheless just as abundantly clear who the better team was.

One of their candidates, Richard Lear, has not attended a single Board Meeting despite residing only a three blocks from Plainfield High School. If we are to believe Mr. Lear’s claims that this is the third election he has considered running for the Board, that means that he missed at least forty-eight meetings. Since he officially became a candidate in June, there have been ten meetings.

After Mr. Lear, it gets worse, much worse. Annabella Melgar admitted to have never attended a single Board of Education meeting. Deborah Clark has attended one school board meeting in the past year – not that it showed or anything.

Simply staying that they haven’t been to meetings doesn’t come close to giving you a full picture of this team’s inadequacy, especially of the latter two candidates. The establishment team’s lack of knowledge was very much apparent in both debates compared to our team, especially with Wilma Campbell and Frederick Moore having the perspective and understanding of current Board of Education members. They did an exceptional job at answering Mr. Lear’s assaults towards them. Lear’s running mates are wholly incapable of mounting criticism, or concrete objectives, for that matter.

If you saw either of these debates, the second of which you can eventually catch on television and YouTube, you understand that anyone who openly supports this group is advocating playing Russian Roulette with the school district, and that’s being extremely generous. It’s downright shameful. But if there’s one thing that the powers that be lack, aside from morals, it’s shame.

This slate is an absolute embarrassment to the city, and a disrespect for both its voting public and its children who can’t vote. Nevertheless, in shameless and socially irresponsible fashion, their handlers will lie as much as possible. Last November, they referred to the opposition candidates as “Team Romney” in the midst of the Presidential election (see Bernice’s post here). Who knows what they’ll pull out this year, but be prepared to see something like “Tea Party” or “Team Lonegan” – which I’d find especially comical, considering my history of progressive activism.

An audience member mentioned how much of a step backward their slate would be. We can’t afford to take that step backwards – a misstep that would so clearly be disastrous for our children, families, and entire community.

2, 3, 5 – Campbell, Moore, Rutherford

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