In a letter to the editor, Morrease Leftwich, Jr., the chairman of the Fix it Now Jersey City Board of Education campaign, claims that the Jersey City Education Association and their Education Matters team have worked to silence them.
After President Lyndon Baines Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act of 1965 into federal law, the United States became a true liberal democracy, as on the policy level it finally became a state of free, fair, inclusive, and competitive elections.
Make note of the fact that I am emphasizing that our elections are free, fair, inclusive, and competitive on the policy level, leaving room for underhanded and dishonest campaign tactics in actual practice.
During this Jersey City Board of Education election season which will culminate on November 8, we have seen nearly the extent of what policy itself allows and what is rendered allowable due to a lack of enforcement, in terms of dishonorable campaign maneuvers.
Fix It Now, which is the team of Class of 2015 graduates, Mussab Ali of McNair Academic and Kimberly Goycochea of Snyder, got its first taste of ‘bad-ole-days’ dirty political games when we were denied the opportunity to be interviewed by the Jersey City Educators Association for a potential endorsement.
For readers who are unlettered in the politics of JCBOE elections as I, a novice millennial was not long ago, I will elucidate the significance of this unfair play on the part of the JCEA leadership: The Jersey City Education Association is the most influential organization which affects the election of board members.
When candidates are chosen by the JCEA leadership (endorsements are not put up for a direct democratic vote by teachers) they automatically become the frontrunners of the election; their campaigns are greatly buttressed by the vast resources of the JCEA, which means they need not worry about ensuring that their name recognition is high due to the inconceivable amount of literature that will be spread across the city–legally and illegally.
Additionally after receiving the JCEA endorsement, campaign war chests become a portly, overweight, and excessive version of their former selves.
What all this means is that the JCEA has a civic responsibility to honestly assess all candidates running for election in order to ensure that they make the best choice for the institution in Jersey City which most greatly affects the children of our city.
In my opinion and the opinion of many others, a necessary entailment of holding this type of power and still making the best decision for the students is to give the teachers, who the JCEA represents, a direct vote for who’s campaign the resources that they have produced will be buttressing.
In lieu of a fair and inclusive system of doling out monumental endorsements, truly progressive candidates, without strangulating political ties, have a terrible time spreading their message.
Mussab Ali and Kimberly Goycochea will fight for the issues that every citizen cares about, including safety for our kids–in school and out, multilingual accessibility for the myriad multilingual households in the most linguistically diverse city in the Union, and increased productivity, which involves doing away with partisanship on the JCBOE.
We speculate that even the JCEA leadership themselves agree with us in reluctant silence after learning of our platform, but that is not stopping them from using a sort of passive coercion in order to have their slate elected.
The type of coercion I’m speaking of is performed through the silencing of all alternative campaigns, including that of Mussab Ali and Kimberly Goycochea.
The Education Matters team of Gina Verdibello, Sudhan Thomas, and Angel Valentin throughout this election season, has been literally silencing the Fix It Now campaign of Mussab Ali and Kimberly Goycochea.
On October 22, on his campaign Facebook page, Mussab Ali posted a video showing one case of what we know has been happening throughout this election season all over the city.
In the video, Mussab shows us that Education Matters illegally posted their material on a private window in order to render Fix It Now’s literature which was legally posted with the business owner’s permission, invisible and a useless waste of our limited funds.
Education Matters goes even further than illegally attempting to silence us though, they even illegally post their materials on private property using extremely deleterious means by using metal rods.
These hundreds of metal rods will undoubtedly be left about long after election day, potentially to be used as a weapon, and also possibly to be used as toys by young students who will mistakenly injure themselves with the dangerous tool.
As voters, we all have a responsibility to maintain the fairness, inclusiveness, and competitiveness of our elections. We also have a responsibility to ensure that our elections result in peace and safety. In order to serve our roles as civic-minded individuals, we must denounce the Education Matters slate.
Their tactics are underhanded and their practices are irresponsible, so we must make a statement. We have a duty to state to all those who wish to hold elective office that we as the people will not reward strategies that run counter to the ideals that our country continuously tries to reflect in our policies.
If you worry about the board’s lack of productivity, vote 6J and 7J. If you are disgusted with the violence that our children are exposed to regularly, vote 6J and 7J.
If you believe that multilingual families need a cost-less resource in order effectively communicate with their children’s educators, vote 6J and 7J, and if you believe that students are the stakeholders that are most greatly affected by the board’s decisions and know where in-school issues lie, vote 6J and 7J.
If you’re still not bought, then I implore you to contact the campaign through fixitnowjc.com or its Facebook page in order to have any reservations you have eased through a conversation in which any question you have will be answered.
Morrease Leftwich, Jr.
McNair Academic, Class of 2015
Fix It Now, Chairman