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VOTE411 Voter Guide

Plainfield City School Board {_getChooseLabel(this.selections.length)}

3 Year Term

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    Eric J. Andrews
    (N)

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    Josely Castro
    (N)

  • Cameron E. Cox
    (N)

  • Terence Johnson
    (N)

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    Jeffrey W. Truitt
    (N)

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    Jacqueline Workman
    (N)

Biographical Information

How will you engage with all stakeholders (parents, residents, superintendent, and other board members) in improving public education?

How will you demand accountability by administrators and the board as a whole?

Why do you think you’ll succeed in making a positive difference in the lives of students where others have failed?

Qualifications/Experience Born and raised in Plainfield, I graduated from the high school in 1999. I earned a BA in economics and African American studies at Rutgers University, later traveling in Africa and South America, where I witnessed how education improves lives, even entire communities. Returning to Plainfield, I taught social studies and coached teams at Maxson Middle School. I founded a consulting company to foster a sense of agency, connectedness, and competence for adolescents with caring adults from their community. Two years later I began teaching social studies in Newark and worked with at-risk youth. I was appointed school operations manager for Newark Evening Educational Center. In 2018 I was elected to the Plainfield Board of Education. In 2020 I earned a master's from Seton Hall University. Most recently I have teamed up with students deemed disruptive to provide them learning opportunities. With a firm belief that schools must leverage students’ desire to make sense of their world, I have used innovative methods for learners to achieve their full potential.
To improve public education, it’s important to foster shared educational values. Businesses, government agencies, schools, and social clubs could discuss leveraging community resources for the good of our students. I would engage all stakeholders in developing a vision for our district and the means for achieving it.
Clear and consistent policies developed within a framework for evaluating progress would be a good roadmap to success. It would ensure we comply with the plan. Should we fall short of ethical expectations or run afoul of a district policy, we removal from the board should be considered.
I have a wealth of experience as an educator and thus am aware of the best practices that lead to student achievement. I am also a former board member. And now, after having earned a master’s degree in educational leadership, I feel uniquely equipped to work toward positive outcomes for all students.
Qualifications/Experience I’m a proud resident of Plainfield, NJ, born and raised here. My options were limited after high school so I joined the military, serving four years in the Navy. There I gained world experience, discipline, structure, and resilience. Later I earned a master’s degree and worked as a digital strategist for Fortune 500 companies. Today I’m a software engineer, liaison for the Latino community, and a member of the League of Women Voters in Plainfield. I’m committed to innovative approaches to long-standing problems in our district, while making every decision in the best interest of the teachers and the students.
It’s very important we fix our communications because parents and residents are searching for resources online more than ever before. The website is difficult to navigate, and the emails and social media posts have many discrepancies. We also need to pour more resources into proper translations for those who speak little English.
Most importantly we need a strategic plan backed by research and data. It needs to define tasks with steps for completion. All budget decisions should align with this plan. Without it, the board and administration will continue to make decisions that cause confusion among themselves, parents, and the community.
I bring a unique set of skills and perspective. Unlike previous and current board members, I don’t have family members who work for the schools, neither do I have a financial interest. I do this solely because I know the students deserve a fighting chance for a great education. I don’t want them to struggle like many of us who graduated from the Plainfield Public Schools. My experiences allowed me to leave Plainfield to see what strong communities are capable of. My professional experience carries years of strategic planning, digital strategies, effective communication methods, and the ability to work on a team.
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Qualifications/Experience I am a retired Plainfield High School teacher. I have taught in the district for over thirty-six years. I am a graduate of Rutgers College and Seton Hall School of Law. I have also practiced law in the state of New Jersey. I have written curriculum extensively over the years. I have even written and pioneered a civics empowerment course with Common Cause. I have been actively involved in various extra-curricular activities, having served as Debate Team Advisor for thirty-five years and most recently Student Council Advisor. In the past, I have worked with the Board of Education School Community Relations when I served as P.E.A. Vice President. I believe that the Plainfield Board of Education is in need of drastic change and improvement. I was successful in getting some movement while in the school system. I believe that I can do more now as a retiree to bring about the fundamental change necessary to improve the Plainfield school system. I believe that significant change can come through the Board using policy to move the district forward.
Lack of community involvement, and more importantly parental involvement, is perhaps the most existential threat to any chance of fundamental change in the Plainfield school system. The key to any real success is parental involvement. The successful districts around us are so because of parental involvement. When I served as Vice President of the Plainfield Education Association I worked closely with parents, board members, administrators, and community leaders on the Plainfield School Community Relations Committee. I would push to revive that organization and push for greater parent outreach. That is the key to any success moving forward. While as a teacher I was a member of the Parents Teacher Organization. I also realized that not every administrator was supportive of parental involvement. Some feared it. Administrators should also be evaluated on what efforts and inroads they make in fostering greater parental involvement. I also believe that Board members should visit the schools more often. However, the chief administrator (Superintendent’s) primary job is running the district. Board members should have an open communication with parents and all stakeholders. How could we possibly bring about the reform we need without that open communication and parental involvement.
I know for a fact that administrators in the Plainfield Public School system were not held to the same standards as even the faculty and staff. This invariably leads to poor morale and an erosion of the school culture. Administrators must lead. The tenure of any school site is set by the leadership. In some of the work sites, we have lacked seasoned leadership. I also do not see the same collegiality that existed when I started teaching in 1984. More recently, some administrators even routinely arrived to work late. This can be addressed by board policy. Definitive parameters should be set by the Board. The Superintendent must also be evaluated based on Board policy and the Board’s vision and also goals. I am aware that there are some issues with the current Board of Education members. I believe that proper training of parliamentary procedures and Roberts Rules of Order should be adhered to. The Board President must follow parliamentary procedure, otherwise you will have chaos. I also think we need to hire better people and again have more parental involvement. A lot of the dysfunction in the district will disappear if we had parental involvement.
While as a teacher I have worked inside to change some of the failings of the district. A few years ago, one of my students complained about not being able to have course electives. I would also find that the district very quietly began what was called “Double Dosing” where each student 9-11 were given two classes of English and two classes of Math every day. Evidently, this was designed to improve math and literacy scores. However, no evaluation, whatsoever, was done to ascertain which students should have been given this “remediation.” As a result, students could not take electives. This with the Block schedule that existed exasperated the problem. I complained to the Building administrators at a faculty meeting. Nothing was done. I then took the issue to the district level and parents. That year we were able to end the Block Schedule and the policy of “double dosing”. However, I do not believe that we have moved fast enough to bring about enriched curriculum that will meet the needs of all of our students. I emphatically believe that by working with administrators, Board members, Parents, students, and the community, we can truly bring the necessary change that will enable us to one again become competitive and cutting edge. I was there when we were. I am excited to bring that fight to this level. I need your support!
Qualifications/Experience I live in the great city of Plainfield with my husband, Troy, and our dog, Blue. I have always been looking for ways to serve my community, my village, to raise our children. I moved to the United States from Barbados. I attended Rutgers University and then went to Realogy Corp. in Madison. Currently I work for the City of Plainfield. I also serve as president of the Barbados-American Charitable Organization of NJ, Inc. (BACONJ), which provides aid to African, Caribbean, and American children. Serving on the Plainfield Board of Education would provide me an opportunity to ensure that our young people have the skills and tools to follow whatever path they choose—college, trade, entrepreneurship, or the military. As a student I deeply appreciated that my teachers pushed me to aim higher to excel. I was inspired by Maya Angelou’s poem, Still I Rise: You may shoot me with your words, / You may cut me with your eye’s, / You may kill me with your hatefulness, / But still, like air, I’ll rise.
I will advocate that we develop focus groups with the various stakeholders to ensure that we are aware of all concerns, issues and recommendations. We will compile a detailed report and use this document to prepare a roadmap to success for our district.
I will champion for better communication and respect among board members. A focus on the roadmap to success will provide a clear vision of what the board and superintendent are working towards. The board’s decisions will be made in line with this plan, and our progress toward the goals will be measured so that we’re accountable for the results.
I am open to ideas from stakeholders. I realize that we cannot govern in a vacuum. It will take buy-in and support from the community for us to succeed and make meaningful changes to our school district. We need fresh and new ideas to ensure that our children achieve their goals.