MAPLEWOOD, NJ — Elizabeth Baker, current member of the South Orange Maplewood Board of Education and former board president, has announced that she will not be running for reelection. 

Now serving the last year of her second term, she served as Board President from 2016-18. She sent the following explanation by email:

July 27, 2020

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After serving on the South Orange Maplewood Board of Education for nearly six years, I have decided not to run for a third term this November.  

It has been a privilege to serve our students and our broader community as a Board member. Throughout my tenure, including my service as Board President from 2016 through 2018,  I have sought to give 150%  and to lead hard conversations about what we must do to ensure that each and every student receives the education they deserve   -- with supportive and truly engaging instruction that opens doors rather than closes them, an unwavering commitment to racial justice and the educational rights of every child,  an investment by our community in our schools, and most importantly a sense of hope and high expectations that we can and will do better.   

When I began my first term in 2015, our Board and our broader community were fractured on these and many other issues, and our students were suffering from round after round of budget cuts.  While we still have a long way to go, I am especially proud of the way we leveraged the opportunity of the two-year interim superintendency to face these issues head on and change the trajectory of our school district.   We have united around a plan to ensure that all of our schools become fully integrated. We have begun to restore critical staffing in our secondary schools and develop much needed high quality in-district special services programming.  We have had respectful and productive collective bargaining discussions with our teachers that have brought more resources to our students.  We realigned our STEM curricula to eliminate hyper-leveling and other practices that fostered segregation and which were pedagogically unsound.  And as a community we have made a historic investment in the Long Range Facilities Plan to ensure that our schools are safe, modernized, and that we have the capacity for our growing enrollment.  

We now face the deeper challenge of actually transforming our classrooms and school environments – incredibly hard work that is made even more difficult as a result of COVID-19.   As I have for the last five and a half years, I will continue to give this work my all for the balance of my term on the Board and ensure that we not only set high expectations for our school community but that our district has clear, measurable plans to meet the needs of every student. 

I want to thank the South Orange Maplewood community for this incredible opportunity to serve and the trust you placed in me.

 

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