Eastman, Bennett, Pai Win Seats on South Orange-Maplewood School Board
Tuesday, April 17, 2012 • 11:12pm
The votes are in. The winners of the 2012 South Orange-Maplewood School District Board of Education election are Wayne Eastman, Jeffrey Bennett and Madhu Pai.
Eastman, the lone incumbent to be re-elected, garnered the most votes, with 2,044. A total of 10, 755 votes were cast in Tuesday’s election. Bennett received 1,936 and Pai, 1926. The unofficial election results were posted by the Essex County Board of Elections.
First elected in 2006, Eastman, a South Orange resident, heads the Finance, Facilities and Technology Committee for the Board of Education. A Rutgers business law and ethics professor, Eastman said he sees a bright future if the board comes together as one.
“To make measurable process in advancing achievement by all—by struggling students, by a middle that is too easily neglected, and by high fliers; to be a key part of a board with a creative vision for our schools…we should work together to advance a shared commitment to responsibility,” Eastman said prior to the election.
Bennett, a former educator who taught social studies prior to becoming a research librarian, said he believes in co-curricular activities as a fundamental tool to get to a higher educational level.
“Our curricula for the elementary schools and middle schools lack definitions and supplemental materials for foundational and above-grade level work to assist in differentiation,” he explained. “Our curricula on the middle school level should be more challenging, sophisticated, and interdisciplinary.”
To accomplish his goal of helping all 6,700 students in the district, Bennett said, a new curriculum will need to be established.
“We have to make curriculum a focus in a way it has not been in the last several years for one, and empower teachers to develop curricula which are exciting, challenging, outward-looking, and feature complementary fiction and nonfiction that are in line with the new Common Core standards,” Bennett said.
Pai, of Maplewood, is a college enrollment and retention marketing professional. Pai is active in the school district as a member of the PTA executive board at Marshal School.
She said believes that the district’s biggest problem is that the children are not the top priority.
“Our efforts should not be driven by what makes us adults feel good but by what’s right for the kids,” Pai said.
Pai said she also believes that a new curriculum is necessary. However, she believes elementary schools should be the focus because that is where the foundation of learning lies.
Tim LeCras and Patrice Kubik are participating in a hyperlocal journalism partnership between The Alternative Press and Seton Hall University's Department of Communication & The Arts designed to give students real-world experience.