This is my last post before the April 27 election. Once again, I'd like to thank The Alternative Press for the opportunity to post here. Unfortunately my opponent has decided to use this wonderful opportunity to issue misstatements in a desperate attempt to mask the fact that he has little idea what is happening in the Livingston Public Schools, offering no path to push it forward and maintain excellence.
In his latest statement he falsely accuses me of bringing politics into the educational arena, but he is the only candidate who has ever made an issue of alleged political differences in what should be a non-partisan election with the issues directly affecting our children at the top of the agenda.
He falsely accuses me of "flip-flopping" on the issue of charter schools, yet our positions are nearly identical with one important difference. We both have publicly stated that we are supporters of charter schools in districts outside of Livingston. However, he is willing to say he's against them in Livingston without any further information, and I want to base my decision on information I gather from relevant stakeholders. A candidate who says "no" on an important issue without any background information may well vote "yes" on something of great importance without background information. Shouldn’t we demand more from our public officials?
My only knowledge of charter schools in Livingston comes from online, local reporting. First, there were reports about applications for a Hebrew language school and a Chinese language school. Later, there were reports of two applications for Chinese language schools, one of which is allegedly meant to be located outside of Livingston. So are there applications pending for three schools (is the Hebrew school still in the mix), two or only one? I think it's only fair to understand the basic facts before commenting on the merits.
Whether either of us is for or against them in Livingston, under current law, we don't get a vote. If elected, I have pledged to study the impact on our community and invite discussion as to what recourse we may have.
I think it is unfair for the State to withhold our education funding and then impose additional educational funding obligations on our community. Will the state increase our funding it they grant a charter school in this community? Some studies suggest that having specialty schools will increase demand for housing, thereby increasing property values and rateables. I am supportive of state-wide legislation that gives districts whose schools are funded primarily with property taxes to vote on whether it should be granted or not, but as a member of the BOE, I can't pass any such legislation – and neither can my opponent.
There is a long road from charter school application to charter school approval. Much needs to be learned by all relevant stakeholders. I wish my opponent had this much to say about something that we will have the ability to influence if elected: how we can achieve educational excellence in the Livingston Public Schools today in light of ongoing changes to the school curriculum. On this matter he remains unfortunately silent.