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Topic: Board of Ed Camp #1
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Barron, Alfred [PRI]

Posts: 200
Registered: 12/3/04
Board of Ed Camp #1
Posted: Jan 23, 1999 12:40 AM
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=====( To Win a Board of Education Election, Part 1)======

A while back I posted my intentions of running for the Board
of Education in my community (Metuchen, NJ). This followed
from several weeks of consideration, reflection, and concern,
mostly about what it would involve (building and managing a
political campaign) and the impact it would have on my other-
wise busy schedule, not to mention my family. But following
this past Tuesday's Board meeting, the presence of 100+
teachers grieving for a reasonable settlement of their contract,
help to make the decision for me.

* * * Ok, what does this have to do with math education? * * *

The following is the first segment of a 13 part weekly log which
I plan to keep as I move along this political process. It is rare
that an individual with scientific training becomes involved in
politics, at least in my experience. The Board of Education
where I live is chaired by a Ph.D chemist who is also a good
aquaintance. We have worked together in wrining a Technology
Plan for the district. Last year the community won a $23 million
bond for capital improvements. It was a grand victory for all
except a handful of well organized anti-tax radicals who would
like to stop the clock. We won because we were organized
on a neighborhood basis with a chain of command. We also
won because our organization prevailed over that of the
opposition's; we had a massive outreach campaign.

My immediate concern in seeking a Board position is to define
and advocate policy for an overall increase in academic quality.
We have a very good school district, but there is room for impro-
vement, especially in the sciences.

My second objective is to get the policy on mathematics
education extended to offer the kids exposure to math every
year, K-12. I know there will be resistence, especially from
those who are satisfied with our generally good curricular
guidelines, but I want it to become excellent. Most current
Board members are not aware of the "math wars" or other
such concerns of the math education community at large.
But as a former HS algebra yeacher, I'll be in a better
position to mediate these issues if and when they arise.

I have open opinions about all the arguments I've read on this
list over the past three years. Now I'd like to see the internal
data which the Administration has been collecting (hiding ?).
I don't know what textbooks are being used or why. This may
become an opportunity to ask a lot of questions and receive
direct answers.

I also want to see a significant increase of enrollment in AP
calculus (now at about 25 kids out of 114) and AP statistics
introduced ("what's that ?", the Math Chair asked me).

Incidently, the leading anti-tax advocate wants to cancel
all AP class with less than 20 students. That would do in
both our calculus classes, and possibly a few others.

So if you're interested in reading along these weekly notes,
please do so. I'll be learning as I go along, even if I don't win.
Besides, I would like you, dear reader, to become involved
as well. Think about how you can effect political change in
your community. Learn from what I report. I'm sure I'll be
reinventing some part of the wheel, but so what. I don't have
a $1,000,000 political war chest or professional political
"scientists" to advise me on what to do or how to dress.
I learn best from my errors.

This is an experiment to see if we have the power to change
things, and not simply interpret them.

So let's return to,

=====( To Win a Board of Education Election, Part 1)=====

January 19

This past Wednesday morning, after dropping off my son at his
school, I picked up the "School Board Candidate Kit" and
signed up as a pre-candidate. It was simple but took a little
courage. Every office employee stared at me at one point or
another. I wonder if they place bets...

The kit consists of 1) a Nominating Petition for Annual School
Election, 2) some important dates (when it's due, dropping out,

etc.), and 3) some general info from the NJ School Boards
Association about what's involved.

The Petition requires 12 signatures (actually 10, but 2 more
in case 2 are invalid). In addition, one of the "signatories" is
required to vouch for me and the others, with the approval of
a notary as well. There are other blanks to fill in, but that
appears to be the bulk of the paperwork. Since the form had
my district penciled in, I'll assume it's a standard form,
maybe what's shared nationally.

That afternoon, I decided to give it a try with whomever was
there to pick up their child. Well sure enough, the first five
parents I asked to sign my petition agreed. Of course it
helped that they all recognized me. However, I also had a
little something extra - a two sided leaflet which outlined
my objectives. Everyone loves a good leaflet, something I
learned to do as a student activist. One parent wasn't too
sure what to make of it all. Probably not a voter, but I'll
approach her later. Later I got a signature from one of the
street crossing guards, a retired guy who waves at us
every morning when I bring the kid in.

Today I spoke with 2 people at work who live in town. One
had heard a "rumor" that I was planning to run. Easy, I only
told 2 others by email. Word got around fast !

So as it stands, I now have 7 signatures without much effort.
The trick will be to get one to sign with a notary present.
We have a notary in the building somewhere, so I'll see how
I can coordinate that. Just learned that she didn't renew her
notary license this year.

As it stands, the election will be held Tuesday, April 20. I
have until March 1 to hand in ("file" ) the nomination (signed)
petition. New items. I also have until March 22 to file a
contribution form reporting if I expect to spend more than
$2,400 total OR if I receive more than $300 from any single
individual. Then by April 7, I must report if any single source
has contributed more than $600. Similar info to report on by
the 9th. I guess I'll get the forms after I present the Board
office with the completed petition.

January 22

The letter I submitted to the county press criticizing two current
Board members for their unprofessional practice was printed.
However, it was also edited considerably; toned down. For
one, my suggestion that censorship would be the outcome of
one member's actions was deleted. For the record, he's the
same fellow who want's to eliminate AP classes with less
then 20 kids (our 2 calculus classes). In addition, since all
open Board meetings are taped on cable tv, there is a public
record of what has been said. This press is shy.

I have been a regular contributor to the local media for the past
four years. It's important to learn the style of the paper and its
editors. There's a lot they will print, but one must choose care-
fully how to say it.

This Sunday I will speak before the town's education advocacy
group (yes, I belong). The upcoming Board election is on the
agenda. Their support will be indispensable, but I need the
same from other groups of people who don't know me.

Suprise. The same letter which I submitted to the local press,
was printed intact. Another letter is in the mail concerning
that same Board member's call for elimination of underenrolled
AP courses, calc in particular.

Al Barron
Metuchen, New Jersey

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