To the Editor:
I am writing to express my strong support for Jordan Siegel, Ashley Wharton, and Don Corr for the Highland Park Board of Education.
Like most Highland Parkers, I have limited time to stay informed of all the very complex issues facing our school district. It is imperative that I have members on the school board that I can trust to differentiate and communicate facts as facts and opinions as opinions. I want members who respect and value perspectives that might be different from their own but have the conviction to act and speak up for what they believe to be right.
Jordan, Ashley, and Don are aware of the need for stability, transparency, and collaboration on the board. Their individual experiences as union members and their capacity for leadership, communication and negotiation will facilitate a productive relationship between the board, parents, administration, teachers and the community.
Jordan, Ashley, and Don understand process. If you have attended their public presentations over the past several weeks, you’d see that these three candidates have differing ideas on how to approach some of the most important issues. But they understand that dialogue, negotiation and listening to diverse perspectives are keys to navigating the complex issues facing Highland Park.
It is essential to understand that these three candidates were not a part of the recent upheaval in our school district. Ashley was a part of the solution, stepping up during a tumultuous time to fill a board vacancy. He was a part of the discussions leading to the resignation of Timothy Capone and helped draft the resolution requesting NJDOE delay PARCC testing.
Heather Wilkerson, Highland Park
To the Editor:
As candidates for the Highland Park Board of Education, we want to take a moment to say how happy we are that Highland Park will be informed and represented by Highland Park Planet’s brand new set of eyes and ears! It’s to this audience, as well as to our highly engaged public schools audience, that we want to tell you why, come November 4 and beyond, we’re the best choice for the Highland Park Board of Education and for the greater Highland Park Community.
This past year, the lack of collaborative communication between the Board and the community was extremely disheartening. We believe that communication could have changed this completely—and not just as a means to let people know what’s going on—but as a way the Board of Education could have made different decisions more reflective of the community’s strong desire to uphold protect a progressive vision of public education.
As Board members, we want to establish varied and regular ways for the community and the Board to communicate so that Board meetings are not the only venue to be heard. We know that one Board member cannot speak for the rest of the Board (as authority rests with the ENTIRE Board, not just one member). However, the board sets the tone for the entire school system. Staff, students, parents, and the community are watching carefully to see how the board functions.
Effective boards don’t only handle their own work well—they establish a model of collegiality and collaboration that builds confidence across the community that everyone is working to do what’s best for students.
If elected, we plan to implement this model of collaboration. We plan to represent the concerns of the citizens, taxpayers and parents to the school administrators, and in turn, represent the needs of the students and school district to the citizens, taxpayers and parents of the community. We realize that the school board does not operate the district on a day-to-day basis; that is the job of the superintendent, who is the district’s chief executive. Rather, the school board sets the policies, goals and objectives for the district – and it holds the superintendent responsible for implementing these policies and achieving these goals.
Our responsibility to Highland Park is indeed great, and we look forward to informing and communicating with the entire Highland Park community.
Finally, with the emergence of this publication and its ability to inform all residents about district news, we have to say we are particularly energized and optimistic about our town’s future. Highland Park is changing for the better with fresh news organizations and people committed to building a greater community through inclusion and communication.
Jordan Siegel, Ashley Wharton and Don Corr
Candidates for Highland Park School Board
Like many in Highland Park, I am concerned about the recent upheaval in our schools and the ever-increasing state demands on our district. In order to keep our schools on the right track and be fiscally responsible to all our residents, not just those who use our schools, we need Board members who have the skills, experience and vision to focus on what is best for our students and our community. As a former Board of Education member, I understand the challenges that Board members face, and I believe that Jordan Siegel, Ashley Wharton and Don Corr are the candidates who will be most effective in helping to move our district forward in a positive direction.
Ashley Wharton has already proven himself as a thoughtful, dedicated Board member, having stepped forward in April of 2014 to fill a vacated seat in the midst of all the tumult. (He had no part in the hiring of former Superintendent Tim Capone or the controversial staff reductions that took place last year.) He has the experience and knowledge that will help our district tackle important issues like the budget, technology and curriculum. Jordan Siegel is a school counselor who brings a deep understanding of the classroom-community partnership and has worked with at-risk students, helping them succeed. Don Corr brings decades of experience in special education and, as a school psychologist, understands the needs of our students. They all have children who are currently in the schools or have graduated from our schools. Most importantly, they represent the diversity of Highland Park, which is sorely needed.
They may be the last three candidates on the ballot, but Jordan, Ashley and Don are the best three in my view. These are candidates who will be proactive rather than reactive. They will be able to listen and respond critically and thoughtfully to the entire community, including those with opposing viewpoints; develop policies that reflect the communities’ needs; communicate effectively with both school administrators and Highland Park residents; and hold the superintendent accountable for delivering the goals set for the district. Jordan, Ashley and Don will represent the needs of this diverse community and our teachers and staff, ensuring the best education for our students. That’s the kind of Board we need.