October 29, 2009
Dear Councilor Africk:
We, the undersigned residents of the 2nd Ward were disappointed to learn that you are supporting the effort to change to an elected school board with annual school budget votes. As your constituents, we support retaining our current appointed school board. We urge you to reconsider your position and join with those who are committed to preserving our schools and our school system.
The above letter, signed by 47 of Councilor Cary Africk’s constituents, was sent to Africk last night, underscoring the divisive nature of the BOE question on Tuesday’s ballot.
Africk’s response (of course), after the jump.
While I don’t have a petition signed by 47 people, I have received perhaps two dozen emails congratulating me on taking a stand on this issue. And these are people who didn’t have to be encouraged to sign a petition. They wrote spontaneously, without being asked.
Then there’s the people I meet at the market, in the streets, on Watchung Plaza, etc.
Not all of these people have children in the schools. So on one hand you can say “well, all they want is lower taxes!” But on the other hand you can say they are less “fearful” that saying no to the appointed board, to someone closely tied to the existing system, will result in repercussions to their children.
I believe change in the schools would be welcomed. Change in responsiveness. In transparency. In accountability. I believe this change could have come from an appointed board. Because after all it’s not necessarily the board, it’s the board’s direction to the Staff.
Maybe after this is all over some of the 47 people will step forward and join in an effort to improve the schools. Maybe we can get a group experienced in organizational design that can review how things can be re-worked for increased efficiency and effectives (or, we could hire a profession, McKinsey caliber, consulting firm to do this, as I’ve recommended). Maybe we can get a group to help with increased use of online learning and technology. Or a group to work with the unions on cutting edge proposals for increased teacher compensation. Or a group looking into decentralization and school based financing.
I do hope all of the 47 don’t simply disappear and go back to their everyday lives.
Montclair should be setting the pace. Montclair could be setting the pace.
Be a part of the solution.