Education

Candidate Statements

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

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.  

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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.

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SOMA

Holiday Shopping At Its Best

Holiday gift buying at its best! This Sunday, Sadie's will be hosting local artists with handmade goods and live music for SOMA's enjoyment.

Light refreshments will be provided, and no cover charge! Find unique gifts and support local artists and causes.

Featuring handmade African fabric jewelry and photography by Maria Luis Estrela
Wooden toys that each sale the ...

SOMA and The New Menstruation Equity Campaign

Menstruation, which has long been an awkward topic for most men, and an embarrassing subject for many women, has lately been part of the conversation in SOMA.

Maplewood attorney and author Jennifer Weiss-Wolf's book Periods Gone Public: Taking A Stand For Menstrual Equity was just published.

The South Orange-based non-profit Girls Helping Girls. Period. focuses solely on ...

AtlantiCast: Episode 008

On this week’s AtlantiCast, you’ll learn about a groundbreaking new clinical trial in the fight against pancreatic cancer, meet an award-winning child neurologist at Goryeb Children’s Hospital and hear about the new Scoliosis and Spinal Deformity Center at Atlantic Orthopedic Institute – plus stay tuned at the end to see our debut episode of the AtlantiCast Medical ...

Investors Bank October 2017 Fed Normalization Process

The Federal Reserve has increased interest rates twice this year and could do so again in December.  But the economy is hardly booming along and inflation remains tame.  Are the central bankers crazy?  No!  They simply are trying to add some monetary policy arrows to their largely empty quiver.

The near collapse of the world financial system in 2008, forced the Fed to take ...

Maplewood Police Blotter - Two Bicycle Thefts Reported

December 1, 2017

November 20 - Bicycle Theft; Sometime over the previous three days, a bicycle was removed from an unsecured garage on Girard Pl.

November 21 - Shoplifting; At approximately 11 p.m., a male concealed Red Bull in a bag at 7-Eleven on Irvington Ave and then fled the store when confronted.

November 22 - Bicycle Theft; At approximately 11 a.m., a male walked down the driveway of a home ...

Holiday Celebrations in South Orange and Maplewood

December 12, 2017

SOUTH ORANGE AND MAPLEWOOD, NJ - South Orange and Maplewood have been celebrating the holidays with tree lightings, Santa visits, and more. Here's a recap of last week's SOMA holiday happenings.

POP 'N SHOP GRAND OPENING

At noon on Thursday, Dec. 7, there was a ribbon cutting and opening of the South Orange Village Center Alliance (SOVCA) Pop 'n Shop, which is located ...

Events at Dickens Village in Maplewood Continue this Weekend

MAPLEWOOD, NJ - The "little houses" are back in Ricalton Square in Maplewood Village, with a tree lighting and visit from Santa and Mrs. Claus occurring last Saturday, Dec. 2,  and additional Dickens Village activities planned for this Saturday, Dec. 9, and next Saturday, Dec. 16.

There will be a menorah lighting on Monday, Dec. 18.

There will be Breakfast with ...

Upcoming Events

Wed, December 13, 8:00 AM

St. James's Gate, Maplewood

Maplewood Chamber of Commerce December Networking ...

Business & Finance

Wed, December 13, 11:00 AM

Millburn Free Public Library, Millburn

All Wrapped Up! at the Millburn Library

Home & Garden

Wed, December 13, 12:00 PM

Temple Sharey Tefilo-Israel, South Orange

The Purposes and Rhythms of Jewish Living

Education Religions And Spirituality

Wed, December 13, 6:00 PM

Congregation Ohr Shalom, Summit

Candlelight Vigil Against Gun Violence

Law & Justice Religions And Spirituality

The Mommy's Review - Coco

Corre, no camines (that’s “run, don’t walk!”) to see Coco, the newest animated feature film from Pixar Animation Studios/Disney. This beautiful movie is something that families will cherish seeing together. Like Moana last year, I took my family (ages 7 to 70+) to see Coco over Thanksgiving weekend, and everyone was delighted by the splendor of this wonderful cinematic ...

Essex County Executive Launches 2018 Re-Election Campaign

December 12, 2017

NEWARK, NJ — Amid a sea of supporters from Washington, D.C. to Trenton, from Newark City Hall to the outer reaches of West Essex, Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo formally announced his re-election campaign in Newark on Monday morning at Essex County Veterans Memorial Park.

DiVincenzo, a Newark native who now lives in Roseland, is seeking his fifth ...

Famed Chef Marcus Samuelsson Opens New Restaurant Marcus B&P in Downtown Newark

NEWARK, NJ - Acclaimed celebrity chef Marcus Samuelsson knows what he wants and he knows how to get it.

He helped Harlem, long the hub of African-American culture, become happening again with a pair of successful restaurants that are contributing to the revitalization of the famed Manhattan neighborhood.

Samuelsson is rolling the dice by opening a new restaurant in Newark, now undergoing ...

Clark and Cranford Police Chase Carjacking Suspect Through Multiple Towns Before Capture in Linden

December 12, 2017

CLARK, NJ – Residents of Clark took to Facebook Sunday after noticing multiple Clark police vehicles along with those of other police agencies racing through town. Clark Police have released a statement outlining the incident that preceded the pursuit.

According to the release, at around 4 p.m. on Dec. 10, Clark police officers Pedro Oliveira and Sergeant Kevin Shackleton, ...

Rutgers to Raise Minimum Wage to $11 an Hour for Student Workers

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - Rutgers University will be raising the campus-wide minimum wage to $11 an hour, university president Robert Barchi announced in a campus-wide email on December 11.

The move comes as a partial victory for the local labor rights group, Rutgers United Students Against Sweatshops​ (RUSAS)​, wh​ich ha​s​ been campaigning for a $15 minimum wage.

Right now, the ...

Beginning Mindfulness Meditation Series at Millburn Library

December 11, 2017

The Millburn Free Public Library is welcoming in 2018 with mindfulness - specifically, a beginning mindfulness meditation series being held in January 2018. The program will run on the following Wednesdays: Jan 10, 17, 21, and 31, at 2:00pm in the auditorium. Please register for this 4 week course, because space is limited.

If you have a belief that your mind is "too busy" ...

Canadian Book Retailer Indigo to Open First U.S. Location at The Mall at Short Hills

Canada’s largest book, gift and specialty toy retailer Indigo Books & Music Inc. will join the lineup at The Mall at Short Hills in summer 2018. The brand’s first U.S. location will be designed around its new ‘cultural department store for booklovers’ concept to offer in-store programming, bestselling books, toys, fashion, home ...

South Orange Joins State Safety Campaign To Increase Pedestrian-Motor Vehicle Safety

“Street Smart NJ” targets speed, distractedness and safety awareness for motorists and pedestrians

The head of the South Orange Police Department Traffic Bureau, Lt. Michael Corrigan, announced that South Orange has launched a Street Smart NJ pedestrian safety education campaign aimed at reducing pedestrian-motor vehicle crashes in New Jersey.

The Street Smart NJ campaign is a ...