To the Editor:
Never have we seen a time when global, national, and local leadership have been so important. It is also a time for creative leadership. We are running as a slate and believe we will provide creative leadership as members of the Princeton Board of Education.
This is not a time for consistency. Consistency has gotten us diverging achievement and opportunity gaps. Consistency has gotten us a culture where staff feel unheard and not prioritized. Consistency has resulted in all families lacking a voice in decision making. Consistency has meant costly financial decisions not centering on education that contribute to driving up the cost of living in Princeton.
Rather than striving for consistency, we believe this is a time for leadership, and together we have built a platform focused on diversity, affordability, and trust.
Nationwide, we’ve seen the outcome when diversity and equity are not actively valued or prioritized. This is evident in our classrooms, too. Students should not be valued less because they learn differently, their scores and grades should not be predicted by their race, economic status, or abilities, yet this happens in Princeton schools today. Actions we will take include: implement best practices to address opportunity gaps; prioritize diversity in hiring and retention; build a culture focused on a set of core values that respects people of all backgrounds. This starts with the Board and superintendent; implementing a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion initiative for all rising freshmen; and addressing behavior not in line with our values.
We want Princeton to be a place where we can raise families and our children can afford to raise theirs. This is becoming out of reach for many, in part because of the cost of education, which makes up almost 50 percent of your property taxes. The Board of Education must make sound financial decisions, and we support spending money that promotes successful educational outcomes. Actions we will take to drive fiscal responsibility: reduce use of costly consultants; implement creative solutions around capital projects; leverage staff and families in making financial decisions; and focus dollars on our students and teachers in the classroom.
A key underpinning to our platform is trust. We need to build a culture where the opinions of families, staff, and students are included in decision making. We must respect all members of the community and be responsive. The Board of Education needs to be transparent. Actions we will take: listening and using staff, family, and community member input in decision making; being transparent regarding Board decisions; and communication via student, staff, and family forums.
We want to raise the educational experience in the Princeton Public Schools for everyone. We want to be a model for schools across the nation for community building around common goals fostering diversity, fiscally sound decisions, and transparency. Princeton Public Schools should lead, not follow.
We want your vote, are committed to leading creatively and transparently, and pledge to work for all families in our community.
Karen S. Lemon
William “Bill” Hare