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Topic: Board of Ed Camp #3
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Barron, Alfred [PRI]

Posts: 200
Registered: 12/3/04
Board of Ed Camp #3
Posted: Feb 11, 1999 3:22 PM
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=====( To Win a Board of Education Election, Part 3 )=====

February 8

After a week of dealing with the flu, I finally gathered enough
strength to return to my election campaign.

However, first a review of our district 'report card'. Our HS
pop was 115 of which there were 2 Merits and 2 Honorable
mentions. We did well this past year generally. Our highest
scores were in reading, where we placed first in the county.
Our performance on the NJ Early Warning Test were, 96.3,
91.8, and 85.4 for the reading, math, and writing sections,

For the High School Proficiency, we scored 93.2, 94.2, and
96.1 for reading, math, and writing, placing us first in two of
the three sections for the district.

Mean SATs were as follows for the past few years:

Year V M
-------- ----- -----
'97-'98 504 541
'96-'97 531 563
'95-'96 518 516
'94-'95 539 531

The current scores placed us fourth and third for the verbal
and math, respectively; a drop from first for both from the
prior year.

Scores are magnets for discussion. So it's best to be aware
of trends, if they exist. The older sister of my son's classmate
scored 800 on the math SAT. So many are waiting to see
where that will take her.

Despite all this, we did not participate in any regional science
fairs (of which I organize a contingent of judges for the math
and statistics prizes). I'm not too sure if we competed in with
the Math League this year either. We have in the past, however.

This past Sunday, I began knocking door-to-door at the South
end of town - no particular reason for the location except that
it is totally unknown to me. Metuchen has the shape of an
unsymmetric pentagon. It's bisected east to west by Route 27,
a major intrastate road, and north to south by Main Street, our
homage to anytown, USA.

Starting with the "first" house on Main Street, I worked my way
North, looping around the block and then returned full circle to
Main. In all, I met about 40 households. Almost all were friendly.
Much to my suprise, I met the husband of one of my supporters;
she was at work at the time. I didn't know that they lived in this
part of town. One woman even look at me with suprise exclaim-
ing that she had "read all about me in the papers", and wasn't
I the one who wrote "all those letters" she asked further ? I was
actually caught short of words with this admirer. Another door
was answered by the wife of one of our Councilmen. In fact, we
had seen each other at our local school Winter Fair where I had
staffed one of the game booths. Shaking hands is an art, and
most seem to enjoy it. Coupled with a smile, a good hand-
shake leaves a lasting impression. It's also physically tiring.

By dark I decided to call it quits. It was getting cold as well.
Besides, the thought of a candidate lurking in the dark was
not too inviting to me. Some might mistake me for a prowler.

February 10

My strategy will be to do 30 minute campaign walks each
day on the way home from work. Just take a different street
home each day. This way I'll be able to economize on travel
and time. It's early in the race but I know that March will soon
be here. Besides, 80 miles is a lot of street to walk.
At the end of last evening's Board meeting, the husband of a
friend presented his petition to us. Within seconds, about
three people crowded for their turn to sign. Even the Board
President made an obvious dash for the back of the room to
do so (Dr. John is too subtle.) Given his working situation,
our new contender will be joining the race at possible serious
personal expense. I respect him for his decision. We agree
to meet to review the issues. Later, two other Board members
congratulate me for joining the race. Another asks if I submit-
ted my petition ! Two are silent when passing me.

Also at the Board meeting was a reporter with the county
press. After introducing myself, she smiles in recognition of
my name. We chat briefly about some of the issues and
made informal arrangements to talk after the final date for
filing petitions. As an closing thought, I remind her that my
main concern will "really be about improving science and
mathematics education." Reporters love inside tips. Well
here was her's. I wonder what her editor will think.

There will be three vacancies in this election. The three
Board members currently holding these seats were elected
three years ago on a very strong anti-tax and anti-Bond
referendum platform. They received excellent support from
the press, which apparently loves tax rebels. Then a year
later, the $22.3 million bond was passed by a 55% vote.

Aside from their appeal to fisical conservatism, two of the
three also held opinions which were much at variance with
the mood of the community. One admitted his support for
teaching so-called "scientific" creationism in biology
classes. This became news rather late in their campaign.
Both were also strong supporters of wage freezes for
teachers; cutbacks if possible. For them, the NEA is the
devil's claw. During the summer of '95, I attended several
of their anti-tax group's meetings. From my notes I recorded,

"We need to take care of the local problem first, then the
legislators, but the local problem comes first", "the group
must establish priorities, then cut out the teachers. Keep
them in reserve and bring them back as we need them."

More up to date, this same individual said at the January
12th Board meeting that since taxpayers paid for school
buses, parents who want to bus their kids to schools
should pay for the service. The nerve of this idiot. Aren't
all parents taxpayers ?!!! In short this individual is called
for a tax increase.

There is little reason to believe that this mentality has
matured in three years. Now that our bond referendum has
passed, there appears little basis for them to continue
pressing the same agenda. But of course, these, and other
remarks, suggest that their agenda was never really in
support of sound educational financial management.

So the door-to-door outreach will continue until we have won.
There is no going back.

The writer is a candidate for Board of Education of Metuchen,
a community of approximately 14,000 in New Jersey. Aside for
concerns about effective and accountable district management,
an affordable budget, and increased communication with the
community, I'm calling for strong upgrading of mathematics
and science education K-12.

By sharing these thought with you, I'm inviting all to consider
to do as I have. Public education needs the input of scientists,
math, and science teachers, not simply businessmen and
politicians. Please consider running for Board of Education in
your hometown.

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

Al Barron
Metuchen, NJ

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