Jersey City Board of Education candidates Matt Schapiro, Asmaa Abdalla and Pastor Luis Felipe Fernandez under the Jersey City United slate heavily criticized Education Matters for supporting what they perceive as a failed education system.
Matt Schapiro quickly aimed at the Jersey City Education Association (JCEA) President Ronald Greco.
“The president of the JCEA, the teacher’s union, his name is Ronald Greco. Two years ago he came to the JCBOE meeting as the teacher’s union president, the leader of the teachers, he said, and I quote, ‘some of these kids just don’t have it in their DNA to go to college.”
“Any guess why our opponents, the Education Matters were endorsed by all of them? My guess is that all those power brokers were completely satisfied that Education Matters will do anything they say,” stated Schapiro.
Schapiro also pointed out that Sudhan Thomas, Angel Valentin and Gina Verdibello, the Education Matters team, were very quick to accept the JCEA endorsement in spite of what said in the past.
Greco said Schapiro purposely failed to provide context when reading the quote in question.
“What Mr. Schapiro failed to detail were related to a broader discussion the District and I [were having], during negotiations and other conversations about curriculum, PARCC testing, Common Core, etc.,” Greco responded via email.
“When Dr. Lyles contacted me after that meeting, she asked me if I would expand upon my comments so I returned next month and specifically spoke of my cousins who attended Snyder High School and received their foundation in various trades, one is a plumber and one is a mason, and are successful, independently wealthy people.”
Greco concluded that the point of the story was that while some children go to college, technical and trade-oriented education has its place as well.
Abdalla also reinforced Schapiro’s sentiments on how the education system is currently not working.
“In 2015 the graduation rate for the district was 73 percent, we need to make that 100 percent. 100 percent of Infinity students graduate. 100 percent of McNair students graduate. Those shouldn’t be the only schools that have 100 percent graduation rates,” he said.
Fernandez received the largest applause from the community when he pointed out how the “elected officials, and our union leaders” are nowhere to be seen when these things like gun violence happen to the students of Jersey City public schools.
He added that there wasn’t one elected official that clicked “Like” on a Facebook post of a candle vigil for Anthony Rios, a 17-year-old victim of gun violence who attended Lincoln High School.
“But when it comes to Election Day, Hello! Oh, here they are!” stated Fernandez.
The 20 people who spoke mentioned the need for the following:
1) Job training in the financial and medical fields to prepare kids after high school
2) After school programs and electives that are being cut due to budget constraints
3) The need for information to be available in multiple languages
4) Student safety to, from and during school
5) Religious meals and healthier options meals made available in the school cafeteria
A formal debate for all Jersey City BOE candidates will be held on October 28 at the Dr. Lena Edwards Charter School at 509 Bramhall Avenue.