Stephanie Lawson-Muhammad for Board of Education
Tuesday, October 29, 2013 • 10:31am
Education is the ultimate equalizer, the primary ingredient for successful outcomes. It is the key to developing intellect and the most basic answer to so many of today’s troubling concerns. Yet getting education right for all children remains one of our nation’s unsolved riddles.
We moved to South Orange two years ago because of its reputation as a diverse community with a solid school system. We were not disappointed. Our schools are delivering for our three children (ages 13, 11 and 7). We’ve experienced committed teachers and effective school leadership, but some parents I know report less positive experiences.
I’m running because I believe that every child in our district deserves an excellent education from a system that believes in their abilities and challenges them to go beyond what they ever thought possible. We have excellent teachers and leadership in our schools and I want to see that essential asset nourished through focused professional development, encouraged collaborations and endless support --ensuring excellent teaching in every classroom, in every school house. We are at a juncture filled with tremendous change. Some of that change results from local district initiative, like implementation of the International Baccalaureate in our middle schools. Other changes are externally mandated, like the Common Core curriculum standards.
Realizing the promise of current improvement efforts requires a Board of Education that holds the Superintendent accountable for effective implementation, that implements better measurements as indicators of success and that insists on more effective and timely district response mechanisms when things go wrong for a particular child. We must ensure that all leadership in the district is focused on successful implementation of these changes.
We must do all this while restraining spending, given our high property taxes, continually identifying efficiencies and making hard budget choices. If elected, I will leverage my professional experience managing large budgets to help in that process. With 18 years in the wireless industry, half of those in leadership, I will bring a thoughtful and unique perspective to the Board. My professional experience ranges from research and product development to service fulfillment for both network infrastructure and wireless devices.
I’ve been committed since college to volunteer efforts supporting the education of underserved youth. I tutored elementary students in Atlanta, was primary coordinator for an enrichment program at Henderson Elementary in Chicago and was co-lead for Newark PACE here in Essex County. I have poured my energy into helping open the door to new possibility for children in broken schools.
We are fortunate to live in a community with vibrant schools. We must nourish what is best while improving what’s not working well enough. I envision a Board and a community committed to that process. That’s the community I want to live in and that’s why I’m running for school board.
Finally, I’m proud to be running with incumbents Beth Daugherty and David Giles, who have shown during their Board service a commitment to ensuring our district is a place where all children are able to thrive.