Diversity is defined as having a great deal of variety; very different. Diversity enhances perspective. To have variety allows us to widen the horizon and expose ourselves to more ideas and possibilities. When we have more possibilities we are enabled to accomplish greater feats.
A great education is built on diversity. This is why we have students learn various subjects ranging from Mathematics, Literature, Science, Arts, to Humanities and Sports. Ethnic and cultural diversity is what makes great communities and breeds global citizenry. In Livingston, we are benefactors of a diverse community. A diverse community that is not perfect but open to different perspectives and various cultures.
Knowing the benefits of diversity, it is paramount that our school system reflects diversity in its curriculum and its Board of Education (BOE) members. Diversity in school needs to begin with our curriculum. Not all students learn the same, are interested in the same or have the same career goals. Just as diverse as our town is, so are the desires of our students. We need to provide our students with diverse career paths including a Junior ROTC program for those interested in a career as a Military Officer, Vocational majors, STEM majors, and traditional college prep. In order to accomplish a diversification of our curriculum the BOE needs to initiate policy on N.J.A.C 6A:8-5.1(a) commonly known as Option II. Option II allows school districts to design and curricular programs that meet the needs of all students. With the novelty of COVID-19, Option II is a great tool because it allows students to obtain credit towards a high school diploma outside of the traditional classroom setting. Option II gives the BOE the ability to create the educational design of the future. With this tool the BOE can diversify the education curriculum and meet the criteria for a high school diploma for the 21st century.
In order to truly embrace diversity, Livingston needs to diversify the BOE. The people of Livingston can send a mandate of diversity with their vote this year. Options of ethnic and cultural diversity are well represented on the ballot, as three of us come from homes where English was not our first language, but diversity is more than ethnicity. Diversity is also important in experience and perspective. My candidacy offers the most diversity as I am the only former public school student that attended K-8 in Essex County. I am the only candidate with a degree in Business and the only candidate with experience in corporate governance. Our current BOE members have educational experience, as 3 of the 4 remaining members’ professional background encompass school administration, classroom experience and educational publishing. Governance experience is essential as that is the role of a BOE member, which is to be a part of creating a mission and vision for a district. Execution of that vision is tasked to the administration. A BOE member must also make budgetary decisions, which under the effects of COVID-19, will become more and more difficult as the economy of Livingston bears issues of closing businesses, as seen by Sears, Modell’s, Lord and Taylor and others shuttering their presence in town.
My perspective is unique as I have lived in various places since I left 8th grade. I have lived abroad, where I perfected my Spanish, for a year of High School. I also lived in Jersey City, consistently ranked as the most diverse city in the nation, as it is the home of the Statue of Liberty and a commonplace for immigrants to arrive for well over 100 years, including my family. So diversity is in my DNA. I was raised in it, I lived it and I know what it looks like. With this perspective I want to champion diversity in our school system as a BOE Member and ask for your vote to grow diversity in Livingston.