I’m writing in support of Phaedra Dunn and Melanie Deysher for our Board of Education.

I’ve been involved in schools since 2010. This history, along with my experiences as a Montclair parent, has let me see some of the best and some of the worst that this town has to offer. Among the best has been the stream of well-intentioned and intelligent people volunteering in a myriad of ways to support our schools, staff, and — most especially — our students.

Leading up to the election where we chose to dispose of the parsimonious Board of School Estimate and have true representation on the Board of Education, established figures in town were promoting a dystopian image of only low-quality candidates running for the BOE to serve their own special interests. Montclair should be proud to have proven these skeptics wrong.  A number of fine candidates come from within the communities supporting our schools.

From within these good choices, Ms. Dunn and Ms. Deysher stand out for multiple reasons.  They both have an extensive history of supporting our schools. In meeting after meeting, month after month, Ms. Deysher pushed against the immovable object of our appointed BOEs and administrations struggling under temporary leadership and — ultimately
— succeeded in bringing proper support for students with dyslexia into our schools. Her efforts also helped trigger the recent special education audit. This tenacity and resolve in the service of improving literacy and numeracy in our district will be of great service to our
children in her role as a member of the BOE.

Ms. Dunn has already been addressing one of the key issues before the board.  As long as I’ve been a parent here, communication has been an issue for our district.  Ms. Dunn sees this for what it is: an equity issue. With some parents “in the know” and others outside that
circle, how can this help but have an adverse effect on students’ experience in the schools?  From a leadership position within the PTA Council, Ms. Dunn has advocated for the PTA Council and PTAs to step into this breach and help to educate all our families about the workings of our schools. As a member of the BOE, Ms. Dunn would be well-placed not just to advocate for better and more complete communication on the part of the district but would be in a position to create policies to hold the district accountable for assuring that
every family knows what it needs for our children to succeed.

While this is certainly a difficult time for our schools and students in numerous ways, BOE Vice President Priscilla Church also speaks of it as being exciting.  I share that excitement for the new opportunities we have before us to bring our district and its education of our students into the 21st century.

I believe that Ms. Dunn and Ms. Deysher will contribute greatly to this process as members of our Board of Education, and I hope you share that perspective and will vote for them
as well.

Andrew Gideon
Montclair


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