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Opinion: Current school board member supports Behrend, Tuck-Ponder, Durbin

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I am writing as a 25-year resident and public school parent. While I am honored to serve on the Board of Education, I am writing in a personal capacity, not on behalf of the board.

This year’s school board election is enormously important, and I am strongly supporting Beth Behrend and Michele Tuck-Ponder for reelection and Jean Durbin for election. These three extraordinarily talented women have unique skills, professional backgrounds and perspectives that will ensure that our excellent schools remain strong and that the difficult challenges we face are addressed by experienced community leaders.

Beth, Michele and Jean are committed to providing an excellent and equitable education for every child through data-driven decision making, priority-based budgeting, and ensuring that high quality teachers, coaches, instructors, aides and staff help all children thrive and grow using 21st century best practices.

In addition to being accomplished professionals, Beth, Michele and Jean have exemplary and proven track records as community volunteers and leaders.

Beth helped sustain and incorporate school gardens into the public-school curriculum and led the Riverside PTO. She has been a strong advocate for sustainability as a trustee and secretary of the Watershed Institute. As president of the Board of Education, Beth has done a stellar job as the board and administration have stabilized finances, improved facilities, negotiated new contracts with all three unions, navigated the pandemic, secured an interim superintendent, and launched numerous initiatives related to equity that are having measurable, positive impacts.

Michele served on the Princeton Township Committee and three terms as mayor. As commissioner of the Princeton Housing Authority, she works for access to safe and affordable housing. As vice president of the board and founding chair of its Equity Committee, she has been a vigorous advocate for equity in our schools. There is no one more qualified than Michele to push our schools forward in addressing the challenges of stubborn achievement and opportunity gaps and in making decisions through the lens of equity.

Jean serves on the Civil Rights Commission and is immediate past president of the Princeton Community Democratic Organization, where she organized educational programs and engagement in our political process. Other longstanding service includes Princeton Little League, which welcomes all players regardless of ability to pay. She has served as co-president of Littlebrook PTO, as a member of the board of the Princeton Education Foundation, and as a parent coordinator of Littlebrook Chess Club.

Beth, Michele and Jean’s children have progressed from kindergarten through graduation in our schools. All three candidates know our teachers and staff, and have seen our schools’ strengths and weaknesses through their children’s eyes as well as their own. They know where work needs to be done.

There are no easy solutions to the challenges we face. Continued progress requires hard work, knowledge of our community, and the talent, creativity, experience, dedication and integrity that each of these candidates possesses.

Please join me in voting for Beth Behrend, Michele Tuck-Ponder and Jean Durbin.

Brian McDonald


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