Education Matters: JCEA-backed Jersey City BOE slate explains platform

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Jersey City Board of Education ticket known as Education Matters explained their views on how to improve the city’s public schools, bringing structure and respect back to board meetings and much more during a sit down interview.

The Jersey City Education Association (JCEA) endorsed candidates spoke with us at the union headquarters on 1600 John F. Kennedy Blvd., beginning by introducing themselves and each speaking on a few issues they feel passionately about.

Angel Valentin, who previously served on the Jersey City Board of Education for over a decade, said he’s running to help the district finally regain local control (which hasn’t been the case since 1989).

Gina Verdibello, an outspoken education advocate who has unsuccessfully ran for a BOE for the past three years, spoke about improving school facilities and implementing healthier meals for students.

Additionally, Sudhan Thomas, a single parent and first time candidate, said it is important to preserve the Jersey City public schools, instead of deciding to “voucherize” them.

“What we want to project is a philosophy that works for preserving these institutions that positively impacts children, teachers and parents,” explained Thomas.

“And there’s another idea which wants to defund public schools, that want to voucherize, that want to cannibalize public schools: we are against that. We want to preserve these great schools, great institutions which have built our country, which have made our country the greatest country in the world.”

The three-person slate also discussed bringing decorum and structure back to BOE meetings, which are known to run past 11 p.m. more often than not.

“People don’t realize that there’s a caucus [meeting], there’s a caucus where all the issues come up. That’s really where the business is done. And then when you get to the meeting, it shouldn’t be three, four, five hours, it should be two hours and you should be done,” exclaimed Verdibello.

“That’s why the caucus is there: you could take long in the caucus because that makes sense and it’s an open meeting, people can come to that as well. So you have two chances to come and speak at one of these meetings … but also, you have to get to a certain point where [if] it’s past a certain time, it should be done.”

The ticket added that while several candidates have expressed some degree of disappointment with Superintendent of Schools Dr. Marcia Lyles, this election is not about her – given that her contract renewal from last year will stand, as well as that the board needs to work together and focus on the state of the schools.

Finally, the Education Matters team made their case for why they’re the three best candidates for the job.

“I’m a certified social worker and my reason for running for this board is that I have resources, I’m a member of the inter-agency task force in the public schools,” stated Valentin.
“I worked for the superior court of New Jersey for 15 years, diverting youngsters from the criminal [element] and bringing them with resources and opportunities. So that’s why I run. That’s why I’m running. Because we have a lot of resources, but sometimes they don’t get to our children or to our parents.”

In a statement issued to Hudson County View last week, JCEA President Ron Greco was appreciative of Mayor Steven Fulop’s recent Education Matters endorsement.

“I’m happy that Mayor Fulop is supporting our candidates. He is the leader of our fair city and I know that he is supporting them because he believes in the diversity and experience of the team.”

11 candidates are seeking three, three-year terms on the board in the November 8 election, though candidates still have until September 9 to drop out of the race.

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