In support of Wilma Campbell

I am voting for Wilma Campbell this Board of Education election.

I went to Hubbard Middle School sixteen years ago. These were the days where, during the warmer months, a Plainfield Police paddy wagon often sat on Stelle Avenue, waiting to make after school arrests. The Plainfield High School graduation rate was dismal. We are a long way from there nowadays, and most of these improvements have come in the past decade.

Plainfield’s graduation rate sits well above 80 percent. The High School is accredited for the first time in over thirty years. In a three year span, the state governance rating for the Plainfield BOE rose from 11% to a perfect 100%. After four superintendents in five years before Wilma Campbell’s grand slam team in 2010, the district has found stability – the first necessity for growth.

Our Early Childhood program is a model for the state – and the nation, in fact. Last year, the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation visited Plainfield to learn what quality preschool looks like.

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Board members Terrence Bellamy and Wilma Campbell with two students at a seed planting event last year.

Contrary to what some will have you think, these things don’t just happen. You don’t just make a wish – “an alternative performing arts high school” for example – and speak it into existence. Progress happens through concerted efforts between the Board of Education and district administrators. In the age of austerity and budget cuts, this involves a good deal of creativity.

No one works harder than Mrs Campbell, who takes constituent service more seriously than almost any other elected person I know of in this city.

I am not voting for Wilma Campbell because of the shortcomings or empty words of her opposition. No one should vote that way. I am voting for Wilma Campbell because of her strengths, and the fact that she puts it more work than anyone else is willing to do as Board President – perhaps the most thankless elected position there is. It’s a burden.

I’m personally grateful for Wilma Campbell for planting a seed – being the first person to encourage me to get involved as a blogger in Plainfield. While I’ve explained that I have a family history in activism and writing, this was an endeavor I took up rather hesitatingly, not having written much since struggling through high school English. Her instincts were right, and it’s been greatly rewarding as the community has taken to Plainfield View.

There is a lot more work to be done in the Plainfield Public Schools, which is the reason I joined the Board of Education myself over a year ago. As a Board member, I am more than aware of the district’s various weaknesses that must be addressed.

But in looking at the schools since 2010, I believe Wilma Campbell is best qualified to continue to lead the Board of Education forward as we build a technology center and integrate vocational training, amongst other goals.

I also support James Plummer – you can read my March interview with him. A lot of people know Mr. Plummer as a Rutgers University dean, but few know he has taught incarcerated youth after retirement. Following our interview, Mr Plummer took me to his basement and showed me a quilt these young men made for him. Clearly, his passion and commitment is apparent to all who come in contact with him.

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I am excited for the prospect of serving with someone who has such great knowledge as an educator and administrator. I’ve heard Mr Plummer described as an extraordinary former Plainfield Housing Authority Board member and I look forward to what he’ll bring to the BOE.

Board Vice President Frederick Moore is probably busier with his youth-oriented involvement now than he was before retiring from his four decade career as a K-12 educator. The Board sets policy, but Fred brings an added understanding of the day to day in a school building environment that few grasp the way he does. It is encouraging that Fred is willing to serve the district as a Board member, and I look forward to continuing to serve with Mr. Moore.

I am voting for Wilma Campbell, Fred Moore, and James Plummer for the Board of Education, and I encourage you to do the same. Polls are open from 2-9pm on Tuesday, April 19th.

2 thoughts on “In support of Wilma Campbell

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