Education

Candidate Statements

Climate and Culture – One of the Key Issues I Will Focus on if Re-Elected to the Board of Ed

a6f46686e35f7904fde1_donna_smith.jpg
a6f46686e35f7904fde1_donna_smith.jpg

Addressing climate and culture in our school community - and broader community - is something that is a key focus for me for in my campaign.  Students, teachers, and parents have all expressed deep concerns with the climate and culture in our schools. We must work together to establish meaningful dialogue that allows all parties involved to feel trust and build understanding of all points of view. I believe that everyone wants to do what is right, but it involves hard work and open minds.

Racial and anti-semitic incidents in our schools have shaken this community and caused outrage among students, parents and staff.  Our students often have valuable insight and solutions, but they have had to create their own opportunities to be heard by staff and Board members.  I believe much more pro-active action needs to be taken with regard to hearing student voices.  I will advocate for policies and process that promote better student engagement in establishing the vision and mission for our district.

The growing rift between our children and the adults in our community must also be addressed.  The reaction by some staff to a student dance performance that was just trying to make a point is an indication that, for some, we have reached a boiling point of division.  The school board should ensure the district’s policies and actions are helping heal rifts, not furthering them.  The district has been conducting professional development on cultural competency, but I believe that discrete points of action happening in a vacuum will not move us forward. We need to bring staff, students and the BOE together as part of our on-going Strategic Action Planning work to ensure a healthy climate that promotes good teaching and learning is established - and it should be among the top of the priority list.  

Sign Up for E-News

We also need to engage in this work as a broader community - our schools are just a microcosm of our larger community and solving for our school issues alone is not enough. The July 5th incident in Maplewood reminds us that the school’s issues are a part of community wide issues. Partnership between the school board and the Townships is critical.  I will work to strengthen these partnerships and promote more co-sponsored community wide events where we can work through solutions as a broader community. 

If we are brave enough to undertake this work with a spirit of partnership, this means that everyone should feel free to express their thoughts and feelings, and all must listen to all points of view with open hearts and heads. Agitation and attacks are not the means by which we will get to better climate and a culture of tolerance and respect for all.  In Courageous Conversations About Race, Glenn E. Singleton talks about the “Courageous Conversation Compass:”

Democratic discourse means providing time and space in the Courageous Conversation for every educator’s perspective and experience to be listened to and affirmed. When this occurs, everyone at the table feels validated and respected. With personal validation comes a greater willingness to honor the opinions and views of others, no matter how different they may be. Affirmation also enables us to enter into conversation less rigid and more willing to challenge a tightly held personal belief, entertain a different perspective, and transform an unproductive behavior.

Understanding that it is very difficult, we must work on our own courageous conversations about race and culture in the schools and I hope to promote such conversations and partnership in the coming years.

Donna Smith

Member, South Orange-Maplewood Board of Education

The views expressed are my own and do not represent the position of the Board.

 

The opinions expressed herein are the writer's alone, and do not reflect the opinions of TAPinto.net or anyone who works for TAPinto.net. TAPinto.net is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the writer.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

SOMA

AtlantiCast

AtlantiCast Episode 17

On this week’s AtlantiCast, it’s National Men’s Health Month, so check out important health tips for you or the men in your life, learn about groundbreaking research into breast cancer treatment that could mean an end to chemotherapy for some patients, meet a local sports hero who’s living his baseball dreams thanks to Goryeb Children’s Hospital and much ...

South Orange Police Blotter - iPhone Reported Stolen from Basketball Courts

June 21, 2018

South Orange Police Blotter as of June 21

Burglary - The owner of a business on Vose Avenue reported that sometime between 12:45 p.m., Sunday, June 17,  and 10 a.m., Monday, June 18, actor(s) unknown forcibly gained access to the business through the front door, rummaged through cabinets and desks and removed some personal items (including Bose brand speakers ...

South Orange Police Blotter: Robbery Reported on South Orange Avenue

South Orange Police Blotter as of June 16

Robbery - An Alpha, NJ resident reported that he was robbed on Sunday, June 3, at approximately 12:30 a.m. while he was walking on South Orange Avenue near Scotland Road. The victim stated that he was approached by three unknown actors who punched him and knocked him to the ground. The actors then stole his cell phone and wallet ...

Maplewood's Hilton Neighborhood Association Celebrates 23rd Anniversary

June 24, 2018

MAPLEWOOD, NJ - The Hilton Neighborhood Association celebrated its 23rd Anniversary on Wednesday evening, June 20.

The event took place at the Springfield Avenue Gazebo with entertainment by the Swing Town Band. 

All photos courtesy of Carl Patterson of CP Photo Op Photography.

South Orange's Allyson Murphy Mobilizes Mothers in Newark to Protest Trump Family Separation Policy

NEWARK, NJ - A group of New Jersey mothers took time to come to Newark with the kind of loved ones recently taken from other mothers: their children.

"It's unconscionable that our government is stealing children from their parents and locking them up in cages," said Christina Liu, a Montclair mom holding her baby daughter, commenting on President Donald Trump's recent ...

Upcoming Events

Tue, June 26, 6:30 PM

Millburn Free Public Library, Millburn

Memoir Writing Class at Millburn Library

Arts & Entertainment

Carousel_image_af1b89eae735bf536426_par440_promo

Fri, June 29, 7:00 PM

Par 440 Restaurant & Lounge, Short Hills

The Extra Rich In Class Dinner Show with E.R.I.C.

Arts & Entertainment Food & Drink

Carousel_image_ab87d453f7ef0862e666_2018montage2804x956-3

Tue, July 3, 4:30 PM

Maplewood Memorial Park, Maplewood

First Time Ever July 3rd Circus Performances and ...

Arts & Entertainment Food & Drink Other

Men’s Shul Softball League Unites in Livingston to Support Parkland Community

June 23, 2018

LIVINGSTON, NJ — The Men’s Shul Softball League, consisting of teams from temples throughout Livingston, West Orange, Short Hills and other neighboring communities in Essex and Morris counties, gathered in Livingston prior to regular play on Sunday morning in support of Make Our Schools Safe, an organization started by the parents of a Marjory Stoneman Douglas (MSD) High School ...

Lecia Bianca Jewels Creates a Bridge to Make Bloomfield Center the Next Style Destination

BLOOMFIELD, NJ - The Bloomfield Center renaissance continues as Lecia Bianca Jewels becomes a style destination on main thoroughfare in this Essex County Community. Lecia Clay, owner of the boutique, describes her jewelry as 'bridge jewelry,' - pieces that are in a space between costume jewelry and fine jewelry, while having value. 

'Lecia Bianca' is the ...

Suspect in Union Carjacking Takes Own Life in Hillside

June 24, 2018

UNION, NJ – A Baltimore man ended up taking his own life in the Hillside Police Department after he was arrested for a suspected attempted carjacking in Union Friday afternoon.

The Maryland man, Jermaine Covington, 41, was arrested and used an officer’s service weapon to take his life, acting Union County Prosecutor Michael A. Monahan announced Saturday.

Covington left the scene ...

Newark Cop Convicted of Reckless Manslaughter for 2016 Fatal Shooting of Piscataway Man

UNION COUNTY, NJ – A Newark police officer was convicted of reckless manslaughter in the death of a man outside Paddy’s Place in Union in May 2016, acting Union County Prosecutor Michael A. Monahan announced Wednesday.

The officer, Joseph Macchia, 37, was convicted of fatally shooting 37-year-old Michael Gaffney of Piscataway following an argument and fight at Paddy’s ...

South Orange Summer 2018 Student Leadership Institute

June 23, 2018

Program Overview and Application Form: (Deadline to Apply: Wednesday, June 27)

The Township of South Orange Village is pleased to offer students the opportunity to learn and practice leadership skills in the areas of local government and civic engagement where they will interact with a variety of elected officials, municipal departments, and community leaders.

The Student Leadership ...

Welcome To South Orange, Drive 25!

With very few exceptions, the speed limit throughout the Village is 25 miles per hour.

Along with barbeques, trips down the shore, and local ice cream runs, July and August mark the summer driving season. If you are driving in, or through South Orange, that means driving at 25 miles per hour. “Welcome to South Orange, now drive 25” says Lt. Michael Corrigan, the head of the SOPD ...

Weekly Specials at Ashley Marketplace - June 22 to June 28

Shop Ashley Marketplace & Cafe for your everyday needs!

This week's specials are:          

Chobani Yogurt 32oz $6.99
Friendly’s Ice Cream 48floz $3.99
Turkey Hero $5.99 ea (Deli)
Brad’s Blues Tortilla Chips  $2.99
Housemade Premade Lemonade 16oz $4.99 (Bakery)
Red Wax Gouda $5.99lb ...