From time to time over the last few years, our district has been called to task over its failure to foster equity and integration in our schools. Like many of you, my husband Alex and I chose this community for its vibrant diversity and creative courage. So it has been jarring to learn about the ways our district creates, rather than tears down, obstacles facing our children, and especially the most vulnerable among them.
Whether you are inclined to defend the district, frustrated that justice has taken so long, or unsure what to think, we share a common interest to address the problems and heal our schools. The facts being what they are, the November 5 School Board election is of critical importance to all of us. We owe it to ourselves and to our children to learn what we can about the candidates and TO VOTE.
With this in mind, I have waded through candidate statements, campaign websites and contributions that the candidates have made to the various community debates. I have met several of the candidates in person and considered carefully the answers that they submitted to surveys including the SEPAC questionnaire and the SOMSD Equity Report Card 2019.
Each of the candidates identifies the principles that drive his or her campaign. But Erin Siders and Thair Joshua offer the most intimate insight into the ways that their personal trajectories have and will continue to serve our community. Rather than lofty intentions or reactionary positions, they provide concrete and specific ideas about how we, as a community, will push our district to nurture schools that work for ALL students and families. They are, more than any of the others, the experts we need in this period of transition.
For well over a decade, Erin Siders has been fighting to ensure that all students have opportunities for excellence. The parent of a child with special needs, she speaks humanly about the isolation she has felt and how she translated those feelings into action, including studying extensively the language of special needs/education and representing our district's parents, individually and collectively, in a myriad of supportive roles. Her candidate statement sets forth the positions she has held, changes she has contributed to and ideas she has for the future.
Thair Joshua belongs to the growing body of district parents with young children who, like me and Alex, are simultaneously grateful to educate our children in SOMA public schools and cognizant that our district’s evolution demands hard answers to hard questions (and now). His own public school education in Brooklyn and Newark, coupled with the years he has spent advocating for equity and integration right here in SOMA, make him an expert about the ways in which our crumbling physical infrastructure and lingering achievement gaps deny all of the children, and particularly the most vulnerable, meaningful opportunities for excellence. His candidate statement describes how his background educates his candidacy and sets forth specific proposals to move us forward.
Erin Siders and Thair Joshua, by their backgrounds, expertise, and proven commitment to the promise of equity and integration that drew so many of us here, represent the best of our community. They have my vote and I hope they will have yours. (And whoever you chose, PLEASE PLEASE VOTE on November 5.)
Colleen Pierce Breslin