I've spent my life in ad agencies, so I know a coordinated campaign when I see one. That's why I can say with confidence that supporters of an appointed Montclair Board of Education are simply trying to scare us away from voting for an elected board.

Look carefully. Not one of them will talk about the accomplishments of an appointed board. Instead they make unwarranted and speculative accusations about how an elected board will fall short.

First, they said an elected board would threaten the magnet system. Then they said it would be made up of only white men. Then they said the board wouldn't have the right skills, that in a town where 78% of the adults have a college degree, we'd be unable to figure out a budget or manage competing interests. Then they said "outside money" would control the schools since ordinary citizens apparently would be unable to resist it.

There's a reason they've chosen misinformation and fear. They need to distract from the catastrophic failures of the appointed board. They don't want to talk about ignoring basic maintenance for decades until two stairwells collapsed in the high school. They don't want to talk about how they're still debating a plan to fix the schools' antiquated HVAC systems nearly two years after COVID-19 arrived. They don't want to talk about the opaque selection process where a mayor dripping with conflicts of interest and backed by outside money selects friends and well-connected insiders. Nor do they want to talk about the revolving door of superintendents. Or the complete lack of accountability. And on and on and on it goes.

So better to scare people into keeping things as they are, and make no promises at all about how things will change. Because nothing will change. Things will only change when we decide we've had enough of an opaque, unaccountable, incompetent system whose members would rather scare us than be honest.

We deserve transparency. We deserve greater participation. We deserve an elected board.

George Simpson

Montclair Local forum on BOE referendum: Watch the replay


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