SOMa friends: We have an achievement gap in our schools. Achieving equity is fundamentally the most important issue in our school district at this time. It is driving major facilities improvements, the integration of our (segregated) elementary schools, and will inform academic planning and curriculum development. If “diversity” is the reason you chose SOMA as home, please pay attention and prioritize equity in our schools. To protect the value that all of our students matter—and that all of our children benefit when our schools are diverse, inclusive, and equitable for all students—we need watchdogs and advocates elected to our school board.

I am supporting Erin Siders and Thair Joshua in the upcoming BOE election, and I urge you to as well. Erin and Thair understand this is a critical moment for the district and bring their collective experience to support Dr. Taylor, our new superintendent, in ensuring a meaningful transition in the crucial period ahead. I’ve benefited personally from Erin’s fourteen years in the district and her experience working with district leadership and SEPAC to advocate for students with special educational needs. There is no candidate (or BOE member) who understands Special Education as well as Erin. Thair and I, both as representatives from Marshall, were asked to sit on the Parent’s Intentional Integration Committee to support and inform the district’s plan for 2021. Thair is engaged, outgoing, and accessible. He has impressed me with his enthusiasm for volunteerism, his analytical and finance acumen, but perhaps most for his unwavering commitment to understanding and promoting high achievement while not leaving historically vulnerable students behind.

I urge you to do your own research at The website includes Erin’s and Thair’s bios, as well as upcoming community events and coffees where they will be available to answer your questions. I was unable to attend the Hilton debate from last Thursday, but found listening to the recorded debate illuminating. Give it a listen!

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Additionally, each of the 7 candidates will be participating in “Candi-Date” co-sponsored by PARES and SOMA Action on 11/3 from 2-4pm at Congregation Beth El. 222 Irvington Ave, SO. Ask where each of the candidates stand on Equity.


Jill Ranieri Ryan

Social Worker/South Orange Resident