WEST WINDSOR: Candidates offering misinformation on schools


George Borek, West Windsor
Don’t believe everything you read or hear. That adage is particularly applicable to the school board campaign of Carol Herts and Deborah Marinsky.
Here is just a sampling of the misinformation, unsupported conclusions and flat out falsehoods that Ms. Herts and Ms. Marinsky have been asserting:
Their claim: the school rankings in NJ Monthly magazine have declined.
Truth: In the most recent 2016 NJ Monthly magazine rankings, High School North is ranked No. 2 and High School South ranked No. 9. The lower rankings cited by Ms. Herts and Ms. Marinsky in their campaign flyer are not current — yet they cite them because the current rankings do not support their negative narrative.
Their claim: 80 percent of high school freshman are taking LA 1 Honors following changes from a subjective to an objective class entry approach, reflecting loosened standards and a “dumbing down” of the curriculum.
Truth: Approximately 40 percent of the district’s students take LA 1 Honors, not 80 percent as they assert, and by percentage, the grades received by those students are historically consistent. Moreover, even if their statistics were correct — which they are not — there is no basis in our district for equating greater participation in higher level classes with lower standards. We should applaud greater participation in higher level learning, not wring our hands over it.
Their claim: teachers are leaving the district because they are unhappy.
Truth: Teachers and other district employees choose to leave the district for a myriad of reasons, including retirement. School Board President Tony Fleres has explained publicly that rapid district growth in the late 1980s and 1990s necessitated the building of four new schools, which then led to the hiring of many teachers.
As a former public employee with more than 30 years of service, I know firsthand how much there is to consider when choosing retirement, so it’s not surprising to see an uptick of retirements now. Moreover, data aside, do the assertions of Ms. Herts and Ms. Marinsky remotely reflect your own experiences in our schools? Many of us recently attended Back to School Night. Did your children’s teachers seem unhappy? Disengaged? I suspect not.
The truth is that Ms. Herts and her handful of surrogates appear to have a personal agenda aimed at the current administration and school board, and now, along with her running mate, seek to paint a picture of a school district in decline. The objective facts show otherwise. More importantly, I expect your own experiences, like mine, show otherwise. If you have children in the schools — and neither Ms. Herts nor Ms. Marinsky do — you’ve no doubt seen that the cumulative assessments now incorporated into the marking periods have lost none of their rigor, the opportunities for enriched learning have not diminished, and our music program continues to be extraordinary.
A final truth is that over the last year the District could have done a better job of communicating the rationale behind some of the recent changes. But if we are truly seeking to improve communication in our school district, Ms Herts and Ms. Marinsky — two candidates who themselves are unable to separate fact from fiction — are certainly not the ones we should elect to do it.
In sharp contrast, Richard Kaye and Lousa Ho will bring experience, objectivity, civility and record of dedication and community service to the school board. On Nov. 8, I urge West Windsor voters to cast their ballots for Richard Kaye and Louisa Ho. 
George Borek 
West Windsor 