I was born and raised in Plainfield, NJ. My mom fled the civil war in El Salvador and migrated here. My father fled poverty in Mexico. They decided to make a life for themselves in this great city.
I went to Plainfield public schools and graduated from Plainfield High School. At that time, the Latino population was just beginning to increase. I remember sitting in class with disruptive students and teachers who did not know how to handle them. There was also a lot of bullying toward Latino students. I myself was bullied. I realized at an early age, Plainfield was not ready for a demographic shift.
Now the schools are 75% Latino. Some things have improved. We now have a liaison between the schools and the Latino community. But sadly, a majority of board of education members seem much less interested in developing and funding improvements than in retaliating against their political rivals. The case of Eric Jones, president of the Plainfield teachers' union, is just one example.
On election day, November 5, we have a chance to keep two board members who will continue to fight for our children, each one, no matter what their background. They are Carmencita Pile and Lynn Anderson-Person. Both voted against punishing Jones. They supported the previous superintendent's highly regarded improvements. And they are eager, along with their running mate Mack Rice, to develop and implement a plan that builds bridges between the schools and the entire community--parents, business people, and residents.