BOE Election - Vote November 2, 2021

How many open seats?


Kaitlin W is the only one I am definitely voting for, and Cuttle is the only one I am not voting for. I voted for them the first time they ran, but I don't like what has been happening over the last year and a half and they have been silent. So I'm left with 2 of 3 to vote for. One more debate to help me make up my mind.


When are the debates?


Never mind,I see it right above. October 26. Are there any suggestions? This is so important!!


Who is working with Steve Latz?


jfinnegan said:

Kaitlin W is the only one I am definitely voting for, and Cuttle is the only one I am not voting for. I voted for them the first time they ran, but I don't like what has been happening over the last year and a half and they have been silent. So I'm left with 2 of 3 to vote for. One more debate to help me make up my mind.

Cuttle has been a major disappointment, imho.


Telesford and Vadlamani are running together. The only ones running independently are Wittleder and Rodriguez. The only thing that concerns me with Rodriguez is whether he will have enough time to devote to the BOE. He was still at work during the last debate. I empathize with him, but from what I have seen the current BOE doesn't really listen to you if you're calling into meetings. 


galileo said:

When are the debates?

 Two of the three BOE candidate forums have already been held.  Recordings should be available.  


yahooyahoo said:

Who is working with Steve Latz?

Qawi Telesford and Arun Vadlamani are running together on the ticket that has traditionally been known informally as the Steve Latz group, though I think leadership has been passed to others by this point. That group has had majority control over the BOE for several years.

Incumbent Shannon Cuttle has been aligned with the "Latz group" over the years without actually being on their ticket (they usually slate two candidates for three openings). Departing BOE member Annemarie Maini, who is a member of the group, is Shannon's campaign treasurer. Currently, in certain disputes over BOE operation, Shannon has voted with the group in 7-2 decisions against non-group members Johanna Wright and Elissa Malespina. However, on the hiring of Superintendent Taylor, Shannon recused themself from the vote for reasons I've never quite understood.

Kaitlin Wittleder and Will Rodriguez are running separately and independently. 




Thank you for that post.  Very helpful to me.


I knew Steve Latz a few years ago.

Who are the leaders of the so-called Steve Latz group other than Steve?

What is their platform?


STANV said:

I knew Steve Latz a few years ago.

Who are the leaders of the so-called Steve Latz group other than Steve?

What is their platform?

 That’s what I’ve been asking myself. I like Arun Vadlamani, maybe because he’s a numbers guy. But picking two more is where I’m kind of just unsure. 


chalmers said:

This story in the Village Green lays it out pretty clearly.

https://villagegreennj.com/election/south-orange-maplewood-2021-boe-candidates-disclose-campaign-info-in-1st-elec-filings/

 This narrows it down to one candidate, imo, Rodriguez. I haven't made up my mind yet on Arun who does differentiates himself from the usual Latz candidate.


krnl said:

 This narrows it down to one candidate, imo, Rodriguez. I haven't made up my mind yet on Arun who does differentiates himself from the usual Latz candidate.

 personally I don't value "independence" all that much. I found Rodriguez's candidate statement in the Village Green to be by far the weakest. Almost entirely devoid of content. IMHO he's the last candidate I'd vote for. 


I just watched the Hilton neighborhood BOE Candidates Forum here: 


Rodriguez is also one I will NOT vote for. He's only been in town since 2020, just has a 3 year old in preschool, and thinks his boss-style business skills will translate to being a good board member.

He seems likely to make worse the BOE's challenges with lack of respect and lack-of-listening-to-each-other. His response at around 49 minutes to the suspension moratorium was stated as if he hadn't heard a word of Shannon Cuttle's explanation at 42 minutes of what the new process changes, what it doesn't change, and why the BOE did it so quickly. And Rodriguez' ending sentence seems like someone trying to sound like they understand the topic, but really does not:  "Nobody wants to see more Black kids getting suspended... because that doesn't help them, but I also don't think this moratorium on suspensions helps them either".


I haven't watched it yet, but the 3rd debate hosted by the CCR appears to be on YouTube:


And President's League debate on YouTube:


The SOMA Justice/PARES Board of Education Race and Equity Scorecard turned out interesting this year. It is intended to assesses school board candidates’ responses to questions regarding equity in the district. I have issues with the methodology, including that the reviewers are a professor and his "team of doctoral and undergraduate students", but sharing anyway:

https://somajustice.org/BOE2021

  • Qawi Telesford: A
  • Kaitlin Wittleder: A
  • Arun Vadlamani: C
  • Shannon Cuttle: (Cuttle received an "A" on the scorecard the year before they were first elected... So did the review change substantially, or does being on the BOE change one's perspectives? Based on the comments -- it could be the latter: "Most of the response seemed focused on the actions of the board and not on the personal perspective of the candidate; indeed the board may have taken some useful justice-oriented actions in the past, but the candidate’s own orientation towards the work was very unclear.")
  • William Rodriguez: D


Lot's of letters of endorsement, and other election info, on Village Green:

https://villagegreennj.com/category/election/


sprout said:

The SOMA Justice/PARES Board of Education Race and Equity Scorecard turned out interesting this year. It is intended to assesses school board candidates’ responses to questions regarding equity in the district. I have issues with the methodology, including that the reviewers are a professor and his "team of doctoral and undergraduate students", but sharing anyway:

https://somajustice.org/BOE2021

  • Qawi Telesford: A
  • Kaitlin Wittleder: A
  • Arun Vadlamani: C
  • Shannon Cuttle: (Cuttle received an "A" on the scorecard the year before they were first elected... So did the review change substantially, or does being on the BOE change one's perspectives? Based on the comments -- it could be the latter: "Most of the response seemed focused on the actions of the board and not on the personal perspective of the candidate; indeed the board may have taken some useful justice-oriented actions in the past, but the candidate’s own orientation towards the work was very unclear.")
  • William Rodriguez: D

This was a departure from previous "scorecards," possibly because a new person is running it. The previous person who ran it has moved out of the district and is suing SOMBOE over something unrelated.


If you read the actual Scorecard responses, the grading makes perfect sense.  I finally sucked it up yesterday and spent about four hours on debates, scorecards and written statements (and have the spreadsheet to prove it)

Here are my thoughts on the scorecard and the candidates.  Note I'm saying this as someone who has not been a huge fan of the scorecard, hates its use of grading as a political tool, and thinks it often rewards or punishes people for non-academic writing styles even when their content is fine

1. Telesford shows a real grasp of the issues, and has specific ideas about what should be done. He doesn't just refer to the research behind his thinking, but actually provides footnotes with links in many cases (he writes like the STEM PhD researcher he is). I was incredibly impressed by his responses here and in debates.  I agree that his answers merit a solid A, and see them as a reflection on the quality of the education that he got in SOMA and beyond!  

2. Wittleder leaves me a bit more conflicted.  She uses all of the "right" words and ideas, and comes across as caring and well-spoken, but she presents substantially fewer actual ideas or deeper insights (as a former consultant, I felt like I was reading consultant-speak). The scorecard gave her an A, but lower than Telesford's A, and that felt generous to me.  

3. Vadlamani gets graded down for explaining himself in anecdotes more often (see the rubric), and possibly for using less academic language (of course, he is also the only candidate answering these questions in his second language!). His ideas don't differ much from the above two candidates, but he expresses them differently. Aside from that, I like him as a candidate, both because he actually has current experience with our middle and high schools (as the only candidate with current K-8 children), and because he is a strong supporter and volunteer for STEM education.  

4. Cuttle simply did the survey wrong. They used it to give a detailed history of what the BOE has done in each area over the last few years, and then summarized by stating their commitment to keeping it going. The survey wanted to hear about their ideas, not a Board history lesson. So their ideas may merit an A, but the responses got the grade that the rubric would predict.  I don't think I'll be voting for them, because I've never gotten over them abstaining (without explanation) from voting on the hiring of our superintendent, which is the most important vote of any Board member's term.

5. Rodriguez is an under-prepared candidate, with limited understanding of many issues. Also, fatal for him on this survey, he is in favor of adding School Resource Officers (e.g. armed police) to our schools, based on his high school experience in a school with metal detectors and police supervision of the lunchrooms. He falls into the category of people who should do a few years of volunteer work in their children's schools (once they start school) and then consider a more "seasoned" run. He seems to have done far less research and information gathering than the other candidates who don't currently have children in our K-12 schools.

So, much as I'm usually cautious about what others describe as the "Latz" candidates, I actually think they are the strongest in the current pool.  


susan1014 said:

If you read the actual Scorecard responses, the grading makes perfect sense.  I finally sucked it up yesterday and spent about four hours on debates, scorecards and written statements (and have the spreadsheet to prove it)

Here are my thoughts on the scorecard and the candidates.  Note I'm saying this as someone who has not been a huge fan of the scorecard, hates its use of grading as a political tool, and thinks it often rewards or punishes people for non-academic writing styles even when their content is fine

1. Telesford shows a real grasp of the issues, and has specific ideas about what should be done. He doesn't just refer to the research behind his thinking, but actually provides footnotes with links in many cases (he writes like the STEM PhD researcher he is). I was incredibly impressed by his responses here and in debates.  I agree that his answers merit a solid A, and see them as a reflection on the quality of the education that he got in SOMA and beyond!  

2. Wittleder leaves me a bit more conflicted.  She uses all of the "right" words and ideas, and comes across as caring and well-spoken, but she presents substantially fewer actual ideas or deeper insights (as a former consultant, I felt like I was reading consultant-speak). The scorecard gave her an A, but lower than Telesford's A, and that felt generous to me.  

3. Vadlamani gets graded down for explaining himself in anecdotes more often (see the rubric), and possibly for using less academic language (of course, he is also the only candidate answering these questions in his second language!). His ideas don't differ much from the above two candidates, but he expresses them differently. Aside from that, I like him as a candidate, both because he actually has current experience with our middle and high schools (as the only candidate with current K-8 children), and because he is a strong supporter and volunteer for STEM education.  

4. Cuttle simply did the survey wrong. They used it to give a detailed history of what the BOE has done in each area over the last few years, and then summarized by stating their commitment to keeping it going. The survey wanted to hear about their ideas, not a Board history lesson. So their ideas may merit an A, but the responses got the grade that the rubric would predict.  I don't think I'll be voting for them, because I've never gotten over them abstaining (without explanation) from voting on the hiring of our superintendent, which is the most important vote of any Board member's term.

5. Rodriguez is an under-prepared candidate, with limited understanding of many issues. Also, fatal for him on this survey, he is in favor of adding School Resource Officers (e.g. armed police) to our schools, based on his high school experience in a school with metal detectors and police supervision of the lunchrooms. He falls into the category of people who should do a few years of volunteer work in their children's schools (once they start school) and then consider a more "seasoned" run. He seems to have done far less research and information gathering than the other candidates who don't currently have children in our K-12 schools.

So, much as I'm usually cautious about what others describe as the "Latz" candidates, I actually think they are the strongest in the current pool.  

 Thank you.  As usual you are very thorough.


I am voting for Kaitlin Wittleder and Will Rodriguez.  I am in the small percentage of the population who watches the BOE meetings.  To anyone who missed it, the last meeting was a doozy.  Four hours into the meeting, Courtney Winkfield announced a hastily-written resolution that was not on the agenda and had only been sent to BOE members a day or two before to put a moratorium on student suspensions.  This was done with no notice to the public, no input from teachers or building administrators and upended the recently enacted Code of Conduct, which had input from all stakeholders and called for Restorative Justice practices.  Fans of the BOE majority said on social media this was done to fulfill a campaign promise.  Cuttle voted with the BOE majority, as they always do.  Elissa Malespina, who is getting a Master’s degree in restorative justice, and Johanna Wright, voted against this eleventh hour resolution. 

I am not voting for Cuttle, who has been extremely weak and speaks in beaurocrat-ese.  I can’t vote for Telesford, who has no children and has in the past called parents “whiners” on social media for expressing concerns about school matters. Wrong temperament for a BOE member.  Arun seems like a nice guy but his campaign is being run by the same people who managed the campaigns of four of the current BOE members who do not value communication or transparency to the public and his debate comments indicate he thinks the BOE is doing just fine, when I don’t think that’s the case at all.

Kaitlin’s platform calls for Transparency, Leadership and Collaboration.  She has worked hard this campaign season to speak to as many stakeholders as possible and understands the danger in the Board’s operating by fiat.  She is interested in improving curriculum and student learning.  She wrote an OpEd about the lapse in school security despite warnings when two students were shot on Underhill Field, one fatally.

Will said that the current BOE treats parents as obstacles and other BOE members as obstacles.  I found this and other comments at the debate refreshing and value his perspective as a practical business man, especially with regard to his thoughts on teacher retention,  and as a person of color.  

I thought the second debate led by the Hilton Neighborhood Association was the best.  Here is a link 





Mom270 said:

I am voting for Kaitlin Wittleder and Will Rodriguez.  I am in the small percentage of the population who watches the BOE meetings.  To anyone who missed it, the last meeting was a doozy.  Four hours into the meeting, Courtney Winkfield announced a hastily-written resolution that was not on the agenda and had only been sent to BOE members a day or two before to put a moratorium on student suspensions.  This was done with no notice to the public, no input from teachers or building administrators and upended the recently enacted Code of Conduct, which had input from all stakeholders and called for Restorative Justice practices.  Fans of the BOE majority said on social media this was done to fulfill a campaign promise.  Cuttle voted with the BOE majority, as they always do.  Elissa Malespina, who is getting a Master’s degree in restorative justice, and Johanna Wright, voted against this eleventh hour resolution. 

I am not voting for Cuttle, who has been extremely weak and speaks in beaurocrat-ese.  I can’t vote for Telesford, who has no children and has in the past called parents “whiners” on social media for expressing concerns about school matters. Wrong temperament for a BOE member.  Arun seems like a nice guy but his campaign is being run by the same people who managed the campaigns of four of the current BOE members who do not value communication or transparency to the public and his debate comments indicate he thinks the BOE is doing just fine, when I don’t think that’s the case at all.

Kaitlin’s platform calls for Transparency, Leadership and Collaboration.  She has worked hard this campaign season to speak to as many stakeholders as possible and understands the danger in the Board’s operating by fiat.  She is interested in improving curriculum and student learning.  She wrote an OpEd about the lapse in school security despite warnings when two students were shot on Underhill Field, one fatally.

Will said that the current BOE treats parents as obstacles and other BOE members as obstacles.  I found this and other comments at the debate refreshing and value his perspective as a practical business man, especially with regard to his thoughts on teacher retention,  and as a person of color.  

I thought the second debate led by the Hilton Neighborhood Association was the best.  Here is a link 




 ^^^^^

YES!!!  Every single word of what Mom270 said.  Spot on!


Endorsements for Kaitlin Wittleder   
    


In his survey for SOMA Justice, Rodriguez stated that he is in favor of ALICE training for our children and School Resource Officers (I.e. armed police) in our schools.  Just pointing this out for anyone who didn’t read down into the details.  


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