Letters of Support for Gowen, Roslewicz and McFadden-DiNicola for School Board

To the Editor:

On Nov. 4, Highland Park voters can elect the three candidates who spent their time and energy in public efforts to halt the ill-advised actions of our current Board of Education.

As board members, Anne Gowen, Rob Roslewicz, and Michelle McFadden-DiNicola, (ARM) will continue to research issues, advocate for public school children, and bring fiscal responsibility and accountability to decision making.

As a 2014 Highland Park High School graduate, I look forward to these three bringing us functional, open and respectful governance.

Unlike the other candidates, the slate of Anne Gowen, Rob Roslewicz, and Michelle Mc-Fadden-DiNicola will prompt a much-needed shift in direction for the Highland Park Board of Education.

Gabe Trevor, Highland Park

To the Editor:

As a public school teacher of children with special needs, I am concerned about New Jersey’s decision to link scores on the upcoming  PARCC exams to teacher valuations, and, ultimately, to teachers’  ability to retain tenure.

As a resident of Highland Park , I have found support for my views in the Support Our Schools slate of Anne Gowen, Rob Roslewicz and Michelle McFadden-DiNicola, who were sounding the alarm about the misuse and overreliance on standardized tests long before they decided to run for the Highland Park Board of Education.

This spring, I felt hopeful when the Highland Park Board of Education issued a resolution asking the state to decouple test results from teacher evaluations. In the intervening months, however, I have found little support for that position that goes beyond verbiage among board members in my hometown. Board member Darcie Cimarusti has shown herself to be the sole board member whose actions match her words.

A bit of background: The new Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) tests students in math and language arts, beginning in third grade. These hours-long online tests are particularly invalid assessments of the progress of skills-fragile students, some of whom have neurological impairments – such as autism spectrum disorders, severe learning disability, cognitive limitations or anatomical brain damage – that prevent them from performing at grade level. Despite their challenges, these students, with the guidance of their teachers, do make academic progress in school. But it is progress PARCC will not be able to measure.

In July I testified before the state Board of Education about my concerns. I had told Ms. Cimarusti I planned to attend the hearing on PARCC testing, but would not be speaking. She encouraged me to add my voice to the policy discussion and I am glad I did because state BOE members were interested to learn that PARCC results would be used to evaluate special education teachers.

I first met Anne Gowen, Rob Roslewicz and Michelle McFadden-Di Nicola last fall and have grown to appreciate the activism, the professionalism, and the diligence they bring to protecting our public schools. Over the past year, they have shown consistent concern, not only about the over-reliance on standardized testing, but also about many issues, ranging from school culture and climate, adequate support services for struggling students, responsible budget making, appropriate hiring practices, and transparent, professional governance of our local public schools.

For months, Anne, Rob and Michelle have met regularly with me and other public school educators; as an NJEA member I feel they have developed a deep understanding of the curricular, budgetary and political pressures on public school teachers and our students.

In these days, public schools need strong advocates. Time and time again, Anne, Rob and Michelle have acted on their beliefs. It’s not enough to merely be an NJEA member or a public school employee. We need people on the Highland Park Board of Education who are willing to act as advocates for public school children, even when issues are contentious.

For all these reasons, I wholeheartedly support the candidacy of Anne Gowen, Rob Roslewicz and Michelle McFadden-DiNicola. The Highland Park Board of Education needs public servants, like Anne, Rob and Michelle, who have a track record of working hard and collaborating with all stakeholders in town to promote the common good for our public schools. Our schools are the backbone of a healthy democracy and the place where children of all abilities and backgrounds should be given the opportunity to develop their potential.

Allison Salerno, Highland Park

To the Editor:

I was a three term member of the Highland Park Board of Education in the past, but I have not been active in Highland Park education issues for some years. However, the destructive antics of the recent Superintendent of Schools got my attention, as did the Board of Education’s culture of silence. After watching many Board meetings on TV and YouTube, I attended a meeting to see first-hand what was going on.

It was very depressing. Many town residents asked questions or made suggestions. The Superintendent never spoke and the Board barely acknowledged the speakers. Equally important, Board and Superintendent decisions seemed rushed and, in many cases, were inexplicable.

Among the people who attended most or all Board meetings, and who have kids in the schools, and who led the push for change are Anne Gowen, Rob Roslewicz and Michelle McFadden-DiNicola.

Their decision to run for the three open board seats gives me hope that the Board of Education culture and leadership will change. I’ve met them, talked to them, and I’ve been impressed with their knowledge and commitment. We need them lead our Board of Education.  I strongly support them and I will vote for them on Nov. 4. I urge everyone to vote for them, too.

Mark Krieger, Highland Park

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