On Nov. 2, Montclair will vote to determine our children’s future. 

Our township is an odd anomaly, one of only eight municipalities whose citizens don’t vote to determine the makeup of their boards of education. Among the various rationalizations for this obvious disregard for democratic process, the most specious one charges that allowing Montclair’s citizens to elect our school board will undermine racial equity on the board, and by extension in the schools themselves. 

According to this argument, Montclairans can’t be trusted not to succumb to their own internalized racism, and can be expected to vote in a Board of Education that will dismantle our magnet system and re-institute segregated schools. 

This is an ironic viewpoint on multiple levels, given Montclair’s extreme progressive self-identification and commitment to “diversity and inclusion.” As president of the Montclair Republican Club, I find it doubly insulting to the character of every good citizen of the town. 

Montclair Republicans are a tiny minority in our community, and yet, in spite of deep and often hostile opposition, we find avenues to express our ideas on the primacy of the individual against the stealth power of the state. It’s in that spirit that we, like all decent Montclairans, detest and decry racism in all its insidious forms. It’s in that spirit that we celebrate school choice,a policy that has liberated untold numbers of poor and minority children, and which is the basis for our magnet system. And it’s in that spirit that we emphatically support the referendum to introduce an elected school board to Montclair. 

If a hyper progressive town whose tight embrace of identity politics in every form can’t trust itself to establish a free and integrated school system through the ballot box, what can it be trusted to do? Speaking for the conservative minority, if we’re fortunate enough to have an elected school board after Nov. 2, we will fight in any way we can, together and individually, to rally voters against racism, and to the cause of educational equality and freedom. 

I hope our progressive fellow citizens can commit to do the same. 

John Van Wagner
President, Montclair Republican Club


Montclair Local's Opinion section is an open forum for civil discussion in which we invite readers to discuss town matters, articles published in Montclair, or previously published letters. Views expressed and published in this section are solely those of the writers, and do not represent the views of Montclair Local.

Letters to the editor: To submit a letter to the editor, email letters@montclairlocal.news, or mail "Letters to the Editor," 309 Orange Road, Montclair, NJ, 07042 (email is preferred). Submissions must include the name, address and phone number of the writer for verification. Only the writer's name and town of residence will be published. Montclair Local does not publish anonymous opinion pieces.

Letters must be no more than 500 words in length, and must be received by 5 p.m. Monday to be eligible for potential publication in that week's Thursday print issue. Letters may be edited by Montclair Local for grammar and style. While our goal is to publish most letters we receive, Montclair Local reserves the right to decline publication of a letter for any reason, including but not limited to concerns about unproven or defamatory statements, inappropriate language, topic matter far afield of the particular interests of Montclair residents, or available space.

Town Square: Montclair Local also accepts longer-form opinion essays from residents aiming to generate discussion on topics specific to the community, under our "Town Square" banner. "Town Square" essays should be no more than 750 words in length, and topics should be submitted to letters@montclairlocal.news at least seven days prior to publication.