VOTE KIDS FIRST...1-4-5... ON TUESDAY, APRIL 21, 2-9 pm
This year I am running with Theresa Minutillo and Ruthy McAllister on the Kids First slate. Hoboken needs real leadership on the Board of Education. Please check out our website at KidsFirst2009.com.
Ruth McAllister, Theresa Minutillo, Maureen Sullivan...the Kids First 2009 team!
Maureen Sullivan: Fighting for Excellence in Education
My name is Maureen Sullivan and I am fighting for excellence in education in Hoboken. I would like your vote on Election Day! The Hoboken School Board election is April 15 and polls are open from 2 to 9 p.m.
My son, Timothy, is 10 and my daughter, Julia, is 8. They are both students at Connors Primary School, where they participate in the gifted and talented program run in conjunction with Johns Hopkins University. They previously attended Wallace Primary and Mile Square Pre-K program.
As president of the Connors Parent-Teacher Organization and a member of the School Leadership Committee, an advisory body to the principal, I have an inside view of what goes on in our schools. I have seen the successes and the failures of the system up close.
I am not afraid to speak up to the administration or take my case to the school board. I know I spoke for many other parents when I demanded safeguards for 3-year-olds when they first entered Brandt Middle School and more stringent oversight of a lax Saturday U enrichment program. When the city decided to close the high school pool to local children last summer, I stepped in and made the calls necessary to get our kids swimming again.
I have also spent countless hours promoting our schools at open houses and community information events. I have stood up for our students when city officials have made headlines by bashing our schools.
When I see yet another bloated budget or when I hear that yet another administrator has been added while class sizes get larger, I know why I am running for a seat on the school board. I will never forget that I am spending your money and educating our children!
Here's my latest letter to the Editor (April 13 Hoboken Reporter):
Vote Sullivan for an Independent Voice
When we the voters go to the polls Tuesday, we will be asked to vote on a $56.3 million budget for our schools. Last year, we were asked to approve a $52.9 million budget. That means the board and superintendent want a 6.4% increase in spending, although they want you to think they have come in under the 4% cap mandated by Trenton.
Per-pupil spending will hit an all-time high of nearly $25,000. That’s up nearly 50% in three years. At this rate, our per-pupil spending will be $37,500 three years from now. Some of the people running this year are the same ones who got us into this mess. I intend to clean it up.
I am running for a seat on the school board because I think we need someone who is independent, involved and informed. As an independent, I am not beholden to any political puppet master. As an involved parent of two children at Connors, I know the successes and failures of the system and how to make the needed changes right from the beginning. And I have made it my business to analyze the budget and cut through the hype to figure out what’s really going on with our tax dollars. Unlike some candidates, I was going to board meetings long before I decided to run for a seat.
The next year will be an important one for our public schools. Negotiations on a new three-year contract with the teachers’ union are under way, giving the board a chance to increase the school day, rein in health care costs that are rising at 23% a year, and find ways to better reward the best teachers. A committee is reviewing the curriculum, and there are danger signs that the schools will drop the traditional approach that is the system’s big selling point. And, finally, the board will start considering whether to renew the superintendent’s contract.
Yes, I am a booster of our schools. I wouldn’t send my children to schools that I thought were inferior. I have a vested interest in fighting for excellence in our schools. Since my son entered Mile Square pre-K in 2001, I have worked behind the scenes at Wallace and Connors to improve the quality of education for all our children. I have also been unafraid to speak out at board meetings when I have seen the interests of our students undermined by politics and bureaucratic inertia.
After growing up in Union County and graduating with a degree in American Government from Georgetown University, I began a 20-year career in journalism that led me to work in South Africa and Hong Kong. I learned not to accept the official line, to dig deep for the truth and to “follow the money.”
With your help, I will put those skills to good use on the Hoboken School Board. I ask for your vote on Election Day, April 15. Thank you.
I HAVE A LONG HISTORY OF PROMOTING OUR SCHOOLS AND SPEAKING UP WHEN CITY OFFICIALS DENIGRATE OUR TEACHERS AND STUDENTS.
To the editor of the Hoboken Reporter:
It’s easy to see why so many people have such a negative impression of Hoboken’s public schools. Mayor Dave Roberts is pushing the board of education to spend $24,000 on an outside consultant to develop “revolutionary methods” that will ensure that five years down the road “our children are going to have the best education possible.”
He talks of families leaving Hoboken “because they don’t have confidence [in the public schools]. His sentiments are obvious: the schools aren’t any good and newcomers are absolutely right to ignore them.
School board president Carmelo Garcia comes right out and says it: “We can’t accept being just mediocre, we have to be great.”
I’m not looking for hometown boosterism. I don’t want rah-rah cheerleading. I want our elected officials to stop bad-mouthing our schools, denigrating the choice made by hundreds of parents, and demoralizing our wonderful teachers. Does an urban district, an Abbott district, a district where 75% of the children get free or reduced-price lunches have an uphill battle? Yes, but we’re winning.
Most of our elected officials don’t send their children to the public schools. Since they aren’t telling you what a terrific education your child can get here, then allow me. I’ve sent my two children to Hoboken public schools since I moved here almost five years ago. I would never send my children to something less than an excellent school. I could not be happier with the education they are receiving at Wallace Primary School.
The first reason is the teachers. I wish the Mayor would spend the day in the classrooms of Tammi Oberstein, Sharon Cantone, Christy Vespa and Elise Rosenberg, some of the teachers who are educating my children. They are dynamic, creative, talented teachers who deserve nothing but praise for their hard work, dedication and success in nurturing Hoboken’s children. Hoboken can hire the very best teachers because people want to live here and the board pays top salaries. Many of the Wallace teachers get their early experience at the city’s charter and private schools and continue to privately tutor children at those other schools who need extra help in the basics.
Next is the curriculum. Wallace offers a traditional academic curriculum that emphasizes reading, phonics, math, science spelling and writing. The children get homework each night and wear uniforms to school. Parents are not told that their children will learn to read someday, somehow, or that memorizing multiplication tables is unnecessary. They are also pushed to take on new challenges: my third-grader is learning Power Point on the computer.
Then there are the facilities and extra-curricular activities. Wallace has a gym and a stage, science labs, library, cafeteria, a new playground. Principal Charles Tortorella has been instrumental in building the theater program, expanding the after-school tutoring and bringing math and reading clubs to the school as well as help from the Wiley publishing company.
For the record, I do not work for the district. I am not related to anyone who works for the district or the city. I was not asked to write this letter. I am not supporting any particular candidate in the upcoming board of ed election.
Mayor Roberts says that in the future, families will move here “just so they can enroll their sons and daughters in what are going to be the best public schools in the state.”
Sorry, Mr. Mayor, we’re way ahead of you.