When East Brunswick’s school elections were moved to November several years ago, we were immediately concerned that our non-partisan and apolitical Board of Education would eventually become partisan and political.
Besides our thriving students, world-class staff and cutting-edge curriculum, our school district has enjoyed a Board of Education that has made decisions based not on the will of any political party, but rather based on what is in the best interests of the district and its stakeholders.
When partisanship becomes a part of a Board of Education, careful and strategic decision making is replaced with partisan ideology and divisiveness. Politics in our schools does not promote creativity, leadership, trust or student achievement.
Conversely, when a Board of Education and its members are not beholden to any political party or party leadership, they are best able to reach consensus and promote schools that serve the needs of every student. A Board of Education free of partisan politics leads to a school district where innovation, partnering, and success are the norm. When a member of the community becomes a member of the Board of Education, they must do so free from a personal agenda and free from partisan influence.
This year, there are several candidates for our Board of Education. Some have touted their party’s backing in public or on robocalls supporting other political candidates. Others have stressed that it is a personal issue that has motivated their candidacy.
Only three of this year’s candidates – the three incumbents – have never brought politics or party into their candidacy. Vicki Becker, Barbara Reiss and Meredith Shaw have received no backing and no endorsements from any political party, and none of them are seeking time on our Board of Education as a prelude to future political office. Neither Vicki, Barbara nor Meredith has ever pressed a personal issue or agenda as a candidate or as a board member.
Yet as important, Vicki, Barbara and Meredith have an unmatched record of accomplishment as board members. Under their leadership, for example, our schools are safer – so much that our new safety measures have received international praise.
During their tenure, Vicki, Barbara and Meredith have expanded our academic offerings for all students, including those seeking concurrent college credit and those at-risk. And last month, they approved a 2018-19 superintendent goal of healthier start times, which is one of many recommendations adopted by the board as a result of board’s first public, community-wide strategic planning forum.
Becker, Reiss and Shaw also take their responsibility to the taxpaying community very seriously. They have focused on managing costs and using our facilities to both earn revenue and serve the community at large. Vicki, Barbara and Meredith look for ways to pass along tax relief to our community at every reasonable opportunity.
On Nov. 6, we are voting to continue a Board of Education that is 100 percent free from partisan politics. And most of all, we are voting to continue the dedicated, effective, forward-thinking, and successful work of Vicki Becker, Barbara Reiss and Meredith Shaw.
Note: These remarks are those of the authors as private citizens and not as a member or former member of the East Brunswick Board of Education and are not made on behalf of the East Brunswick Board of Education.