Like all towns and cities, Plainfield has needs – an ever-growing number of voids that must be filled for the betterment of its people. More often than not, residents of our city decide to fill these voids. Some choose to better Plainfield as part of their career while even more volunteer their time and energy on the side – some do both. These countless hours from involved citizens are a large part of what makes a community.
Older folks will tell you that Plainfielders are not as close as they used to be – and I take them for their word. Nonetheless, I am proud to be from a place where with such a strong sense of community compared to others in our area. In Plainfield, you are rarely more than two degrees of separation from anyone.
This sense of community is one of the reasons I returned and stayed here after seven years away – in college, working in Philadelphia, and abroad. It’s one of the reasons blogging here is so fulfilling.
As I was born and raised here in Plainfield and attended local schools, I understand that the school system has long been an issue in our city – and in virtually all cities like ours around the nation for that matter. Furthermore, public education in our country is only trending downward.
Make no mistake about it, we must only look at our neighbors in Newark to understand what the powers that be would eventually like to bring to all schools. Newark’s declaration as failing, state takeover, massive school shut downs, charterization and fragmentation are part of a national plan – our state’s largest city is merely an incubator for those desires. Privatization of American public education is real, and the resistance really does start at home.
Prior to last year’s election, curious about the impact of the BOE, I made sure that I read The Essential School Board Book by Nancy Walser. The author sold me further on the importance of a strong, positive governing body, and how their efforts do reach the children in the classroom. Who you choose to represent you on the Board of Education really does matter, especially over the years. The independent governance rating for the Plainfield BOE is near 90% after a dismal 11% only a few years ago. The results of such should become increasingly apparent. There’s more work to do, but with due diligence I don’t doubt that it will be done.
Aside from having an interest in education and our city, I am an architect and plan to use my knowledge to help the Board of Education as it moves forward with its many capital improvement projects. Effective facilities management, too, trickles down to student experiences and achievement.
There’s another reason I’m running. Unfortunately, it’s not only national business interests who wish to capitalize on public schools. Powerful local politicians would like to control our institutions and their resources – meaning their money-making potential. I refuse to stand around and watch the worst among us profit from the education system.
Of course, those who aspire to greater riches already have a good deal of resources to begin with. While it is indeed a challenge to go against machine politicians and their massive war chests, it’s been proven time and time again to be a surmountable obstacle.
Last year’s election – which I narrowly lost despite a victory by my slate – was probably the most stressful two month period of my life, including the most intense parts of architecture school.
That being said, I have been particularly touched by the large outreach of support leading up to today’s filing deadline. Leaning towards another run, I was further encouraged to this decision by countless people, many of whom pledge to help in whatever way they can. For anyone interested in playing a part, there are always roles, both large and small.
Working together, we have an inherent advantage over the powers that be. You can’t buy trust and relationships cultivated over years. You can’t buy hard work by determined people who stand strong in their beliefs and goals. You can’t fabricate genuinely caring about the betterment of Plainfield.