EAST BRUNSWICK, NJ - After 9 years as a member of the East Brunswick Board of Education, Laurie Lachs is still excited about the district's commitment to "excellence in academics, the arts, and athletics" that works toward making, in her words, "the well-rounded child."
Lachs, who applied to fill a vacancy on the BOE and then later ran for election, grew up in East Brunswick where both she and her children had a "wonderful educational experience." She took advantage of Advanced Placement classes, but a family member had need of instruction in Special Education. "Seeing both ends of the spectrum of offerings was important to me. I knew what was available to the students in the district." However, Lachs says that she wants to make sure that "all kids are represented" a in the offerings that are available in the schools.
Lachs is a fan of community action, having devoted 20 years to nonprofit work. She was pleased by both the positive response and the professional follow-through involved in the Strategic Planning Process. "Getting the information back - following the community input evening held at Churchill School - and then hearing the reports by the staff and the input from parents and student - took some time, but it was worth it. Many initiatives have resulted from this stakeholders approach, " said Lachs.
This year, she is pleased by the reintroduction of some clubs at the middle schools level and the success of the Pathways Program, an joint effort between the EB schools and Middlesex County College. "My own children have benefited from the program, " said Lachs, who sees Pathways and Co-op experiences as giving "a huge advantage" to all students.
With regard to standardized testing, Lachs asserts, "I get my driver's license. I have to take a test. There is no opting out. If the BOE does not implement the testing required by the state, there are consequences for that for our district, " said Lachs.
However, Lachs regrets lost instructional time to the PARCC and the preparation for not only the content but also the format for the evaluation: " It's about balance. We need to use the input to inform classroom instruction. We will roll it out and keep evaluating it at the state level. Data is valuable, but we don't just take a look at one form of data. We need to keep tweaking and improving how we administer the test. Losing time to test preparation is a legitimate concern."