New Rochelle’s School and Library elections are next Tuesday, May 17th. Here are my recommendations. (If you agree with my comments, please share them with others by email or social media.)
Rachel Relkin & Todd Kern for School Board
Now completing her first term on the School Board and running for reelection, Rachel Relkin has been an exceptionally thoughtful, informed, and engaged leader, who has earned the confidence of colleagues, administrators, and constituents.
Rachel played an especially vital and constructive role in the City-School dialogue surrounding downtown development, helping to formulate new standards that – for the first time – require developers to contribute to school infrastructure needs. In these discussions, I saw firsthand Rachel’s ability to balance determined advocacy for the students of New Rochelle with an appreciation for our community’s broader context. Our Schools will be very well served by her continued leadership, and I am proud to support her.
Todd Kern is a first-time candidate, so a little more needs to be said about him. Fortunately, everything I have to say is good, very good. In fact, it’s hard to imagine a better person to join the School Board at this particular moment in our history. Consider what Todd brings to the table . . .
First, outstanding and relevant professional experience as an education innovator. Todd co-founded and runs an organization called 2Revolutions, which works with school districts, colleges, and educators throughout America to build and implement new learning models. On the School Board, he’ll be in a position to apply that extraordinary breadth of knowledge to local priorities.
Second, passion for our community. Todd is already a generous contributor to the civic life of New Rochelle: he’s been a coach for youth sports, a Board Member on the Fund for Educational Excellence, and an advisor to My Brother’s Keeper, not to mention the father of two public school kids. These various commitments reflect true dedication to New Rochelle and to all that our community represents.
Third, clear and compelling vision. On this point, I’ll let Todd’s words speak for themselves. This is how he describes the goals of his candidacy:
Excellence – our kids deserve the best possible opportunity to develop the knowledge, skills and dispositions they need to be successful in the complex future that awaits them. That’s job number one.
Equity – our diversity is a strength, but many students start off with unfair disadvantages. If a community like New Rochelle can’t successfully demonstrate that we care deeply and authentically about all kids, who will?
Innovation – the reality is that the world is changing much faster than our schools have been able to respond. I’d like to help the NewRo system lean into the future and think differently about how we support teachers and structure schools to give students what they need to be successful in college, career and beyond.
And fourth, exceptional leadership skills. I had the privilege of seeing Todd in action several years ago, when he was selected to Chair a non-partisan citizens budget panel. This fifteen-member group was composed of people with widely varying opinions and personality types and was charged with addressing enormously complex – and sometimes emotional – fiscal and programming questions. In less capable hands, it might have been a disaster, but Todd emerged from this process with the admiration and respect of every participant (and nearly-universal support for an overall package of recommendations.) He accomplished this with patient regard for competing opinions, clear and organized thinking, unflinching honesty, and quiet wisdom. By the way, Todd had no hesitation disagreeing with me at several points during the process; his personal independence and intellectual integrity are beyond question.
In sum, our School District would benefit from a positive change agent, who can grapple with the fast-moving evolution of education in the 21st century with confidence, imagination, intelligence, and a fierce commitment to serving the needs of our children. That is Todd Kern.
We rarely have a chance to put people like Todd into positions of public authority. Let’s seize the opportunity.
Dierdra Gray Clark, Greg Varian & Yadira Ramos Herbert for Library Board
Dierdra Gray Clark, Greg Varian, and Yadira Ramos Herbert are running unopposed for three seats on the Library Board. They are great people, who are fully committed to our library and to its vital role in the community. If these seats were contested, I would say much more about the virtues of the individual candidates, but, given the circumstances, I’ll just offer my strong, heartfelt endorsement and leave it at that.
YES for the School & Library Budgets and for School Bond
Oh yeah, while you are voting for the candidates, there are also the minor matters of the annual budgets for the School District and Public Library, as well as the $106 million capital bond for essential School repairs and modernization. Please vote YES across the board. The length of this post has probably strained your patience already, so if you want more information, I will simply direct you to the School District website and this School Bond Fact Sheet.
Spread the Word & Remember to Vote!
Whatever your preferences, please be sure to vote. Turnout in school and library elections is notoriously low, so participation is really vital. And, again, please spread the word via email or social media. Thanks for reading!