Mussab Ali and Kimberly Goycochea believe that their strongest assets as board of education candidates is coming through the public education system in Jersey City.
“The students who have actually been through the system, spending fifteen years of my life going to school from eight to three o’ clock, I think that makes me one of the best candidates because I actually know what is going on at the schools,” stated Ali, a graduate of McNair High School.
“As a board member, when you go into a school, people may treat you differently, look at you differently and you may not get the same experience. But as a student, I was a part of these schools. I went to Snyder for four years,” rationalized Goycochea.
“I can honestly say that the experience that I have gathered is something that that can be used properly to put the board of education in a better place and to put the schools in a better place and to put our students at a higher level of education.”
The two share the same concerns for violence in schools in Jersey City.
“From 2009 to 2015, 15 people under age of 18 were either shot, stabbed or killed,” stated Ali, who believes violent crime has an immense impact not only the families and the communities, but also on the students who knew the victims since it could affect their overall school performance.
Furthermore, Goycochea encourages the need to improve the relationships between parents, teachers, students and school security guards so the students do not feel alienated, but rather “part of the solution” in order to create safer schools.
Both candidates, who came from homes where English was not the first spoken language, emphasized the importance of having multi-lingual accessibility – especially during board meetings.
According to Ali and Goycochea, having parents understand the academic programs and curriculum can really influence their overall performance.
When asked about their thoughts on charter schools, Goycochea recalled her experience as a Snyder High School student while sharing the hallways with Innovation High School.
Ali stated, “We are not completely against charter schools. We believe however, charter schools should be used to bridge the gap in the areas where there are low-performing public schools. Charters should not be established as replacements for public schools but rather as supplements. Public schools should be our first priority.”
Ali also revealed that he is against 25 to 30 year tax abatements, mainly because it affects the infrastructure of schools.
He further explained his concern for the PILOT (payment in lieu of taxes) developments that are not paying taxes, since in these scenarios, there is no funding coming in to help build more space or more schools.
With all the additional developments and schools that are already “busting at the seams,” there is a need to really put a stop to the 25 to 30-year abatements and to also work closely with the School Development Authority, Ali said.
He also stressed building a close relationship with officials at the state and local level to help accommodate students and families accordingly.
The running mates also share the same opinion on partisanship on the board and that students, not politics take precedent at all times.
There are a total of 13 candidates seeking the three, three-years terms on the Jersey City Board of Education in the November 8 election.