In today’s political climate, we hear that every election matters, but maybe none so much as this year’s races on Nov. 3. The challenges we have faced as a community in 2020, including how our schools are adapting to serve our youngest residents, have been a clarion call for voters to choose every line on the ballot with utmost care.
Our children have watched our world change to meet these obstacles, and they are watching still as we choose leaders for the country, the state and even our own town’s Board of Education. They watch how we offer solutions for our community, and they watch when we disagree.
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The local Board of Education is a non-partisan group of elected officials tasked with ensuring the high-quality classroom education and related services that the Bridgewater-Raritan district is known for. Members must work together with all participants in the school community with mutual respect, considering and honoring the best interests of all children.
For these reasons, I am appalled at the recent campaign actions of Mr. JP Levin. He repeatedly criticizes the current board, trying to cast aspersions on routine decisions as suspicious or corrupt. He has launched misleading attacks against another opponent that may meet the legal criteria for defamation. Yet, when questioned, Mr. Levin fails to offer meaningful solutions or conclusive evidence for his accusations. He refuses to expand on his own plans and ideas for the benefit of our schools, instead issuing vague platitudes. As his slogan insists, transparency does matter – and we can all see through these tactics.
Mr. Levin’s type of smear campaign creates division and disruption on the board at this critical time when we must come together as a community with shared American values. It also discourages parent participation on our committees and at our public board meetings.
Cooperation, constructive proposals and meaningful compromise are what we need to operate our schools effectively. This is what we all must model for our children. To become responsible citizens and voters, they must see how it is possible to disagree on a topic and work towards personal ideals without disparaging others and rendering a group ineffective.
I urge my Bridgewater neighbors to review the platforms of the other three candidates for our Board of Education before selecting two of them. These individuals are sharing their views and qualifications in a positive manner and without injecting partisan politics into an entity that operates beyond political parties. Do find candidates whose ideals might match your own, but also appreciate the spirit of advancement and unity that each one espouses.
We need our schools to be a safe place for our children to grow, thrive, explore and learn. We need them to be spaces free from indoctrination into one way of thinking, but rather full of a world of possibilities. For their sake, we should hold each other accountable for modeling good citizenship. We are only Bridgewater Strong when our differences can inspire unity instead of division.