WEST WINDSOR: All should work together for good of students

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Patrick Riccards, West Windsor
Most communities would celebrate being a high-ranking school district like ours. The most recent New Jersey Monthly high school ratings give us the No. 2 and No. 9 high schools in the state. Yet we have two candidates, running as a ticket for school board, condemning the current district leadership for “lowered educational standards and learning.” As an “example” of such mismanagement, they note “High School South was always ranked in the top 10 high schools in New Jersey. Now South is ranked 35.”
It’s a terrific soundbite, but it’s also a soundbite that warrants four Pinocchios by any political fact checker. That 35th-ranked high school is actually the ninth best high school in the state. But we shouldn’t let the facts get in the way, should we? Facts just muddy the waters when you are trying to make a top school district with exemplary teachers and incredible students look like it is on the edge of ruin.
Sadly, our school board race has taken on the tone, tenor, and vitriol of a Trump rally, as two candidates look to scapegoat and blame others for perceived wrongs. Many in this community are quick to blame the superintendent, the state, technology, the tests, parents, and even those kids who seek to push themselves to take more advanced classes for somehow weakening some of the best schools in the country.
It’s a tough job serving on a local school board. I should know, I served as chairman of a high-achieving school board in a community just like ours. So it is unfortunate when one sees the negativity, blame, and vitriol playing out on the national presidential campaign stage seep into WW-P, a community that would be the envy of most cities and towns across the United States. It is sad to see candidates put forward incomplete stories, whispered innuendo, and downright falsehoods to try to justify a narrative of a school system in crisis.
And it is disheartening to see individuals try to heighten an “us versus them” thinking in a community where all should be focused on our kids, what we do well, and how we can do it even better TOGETHER. 
Patrick Riccards 
West Windsor 