Planet Princeton

Former Princeton School Board Member Addresses Teacher Contract Negotiations in Open Letter

Shamsi
Shamsi

An open letter to Princeton Public Schools staff, students and parents:

I am grateful for the opportunity that I have had over the last 3 years to serve our schools as a board member. It has provided me valuable insight into how hard our administrators, teachers and support staff work everyday to ensure that our children receive an excellent education.

I have had the opportunity to hear administrators and teachers present on curriculum changes, clubs, and projects being implemented. What I have learned is that there is tremendous thought, planning, hard work and dedication that goes into ensuring the excellence of our schools.

Here, at Princeton, we are fortunate to not have only the best and the brightest among our staff but also the most thoughtful and caring administrators, teachers and support staff.

To honor our outstanding administrators, teachers and support staff, I have made a donation to the ACLU of NJ. Being a 2nd term ACLU-NJ Board member, I am very proud of all the great advocacy work that our staff engages in on a daily basis. However, this donation is in recognition of their outstanding work over the years to advocate for the rights of employees to organize unions and bargain collectively. In the words of the ACLU, “Unions facilitate and enhance the ability of their members to exercise core civil liberties, such as the First Amendment rights of association, speech, and petition.” As a long time civil rights advocate, please know that I stand with all of you as you work very hard to come to a fair settlement.

Coming from a middle class family, I understand and share your struggles to maintain a comfortable lifestyle through economically challenging times.

The reality is that we are all being squeezed from all sides and that includes our public school system too. The school district is not only contending with healthcare costs that rise exponentially every year but also unfunded mandates from the legislature and a very real 2 percent cap on our tax levy that significantly limits our funding stream.

From where I stand, the board, administrators, teachers, support staff, students and parents are all on the same side – we are collectively facing a fiscal cliff that threatens the very survival of the excellence that we all hold so dear at our schools.

It has been great over the last several months to see so many teachers, students and parents at board meetings advocating for a fair settlement. This passion and advocacy for public education are exactly what make Princeton a great community and make me feel proud to be a Princetonian.

I would urge you to consider taking this passion and your advocacy one step further. Please consider joining the leadership of this board as they continue to advocate for legislative change in Trenton. A simple change such as the complete funding of our schools through the school funding formula would significantly shift the financial landscape not just for our schools, but also for school districts across the state. We need to work together to push back against this onslaught on our teachers and the public school system. Given, all the years that I have spent engaged in advocacy work, I know that we would be far more effective if we worked together to impact change.

The last three years have given me the opportunity to work with some of the best people I have ever known. My colleagues on the board are among the smartest people I know but what makes them truly remarkable is their commitment to our schools and children – they have chosen to volunteer their time in service to our schools at one of the most challenging times for public schools in New Jersey. Tim, Andrea, Molly, Pat, Rebecca, Martha, Dan, Evelyn and Tom, I thank you for your leadership. You lead with grace, kindness and compassion – I have learned so much from all of you and am grateful for the opportunity to have served with you.

Thank you for giving me this opportunity to serve our schools and our children. My colleagues on the board, administrators, teachers and our wonderful support staff, I thank you for all you do every single day in service of our schools and children. I am truly grateful!

Afsheen Shamsi

Krystal Knapp

Krystal Knapp is the founding editor of Planet Princeton. She can be reached via email at editor AT planetprinceton.com. Send all letters to the editor and press releases to that email address.

  • SFB

    “A simple change such as the complete funding of our schools through the school funding formula…”
    I’m genuinely interested to know what this means. I can’t think of any simple change that would make more money for schools, apart from putting up taxes.

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