To the Editor:
Thirty years ago, 81 year old Clara Peller captivated America with a simple question: “Where’s the Beef?” Though just selling a bigger hamburger, the phrase became ubiquitous as a way of questioning the substance of any item or idea. It is also strangely applicable in this year’s Franklin Lakes School elections. While I have seen lawn signs aplenty, I have not seen any reasonable (or accurate) complaints about the incumbent board members, nor have I seen a proactive agenda as to what the opposition would do going forward. This leaves me to wonder: “Where is the Beef?”
Superficially, the challengers appear to be agents of change but actually project a steadfast resistance to change. They don’t like the new superintendent, they don’t like the change in the election schedule, and they really don’t like the Princeton system. Irony aside, the opposition seems to be merely seizing on discrete issues that were unpopular in small parts of the community and attempting to cultivate a vague sense of dissatisfaction: All without providing any answers or solutions.
It is easy to criticize; particularly in a vacuum, but our schools and our children are far more important than the personal preferences of a vaguely dissatisfied minority. Moreover, criticism should have a constructive purpose, unlike here, where it is simply a vehicle to manufacture discontent. The superintendent is here. He is a professional. He is forward-thinking. He also has 2 years left on his contract. Like 85-90 percent of all NJ municipalities, our election cycle has changed, saving election costs, increasing voter participation and capping school budget increases at 2 percent per year (less than the final budget increase in 2008 — the last time the school budget was defeated.) Finally, the Princeton system deserves another look. If we don’t continually explore options to improve our educational experiences, we stagnate. 16 of 20 people on the appointed efficiency committee favored further exploration of the concept, but were ultimately shouted down by a very small, albeit very loud, contingent who derailed the process, effectively substituting their judgment and personal preferences for the entire town.
Even more outrageous, the opposition has taken to politicizing the recent change in principals at the Woodside school, as if a confidential personnel matter represented a discretionary spending decision, and as if they had even a hint of the facts relevant to that matter. Indeed, to treat a matter of this nature as political fodder is nothing short of irresponsible.
Our schools deserve better than self serving, opportunistic criticism and misrepresented facts. Under the current Board, spending growth has been slowed and our tax dollars are being spent more productively. Our district is ahead of the curve, and the rest of the region, in implementing new curriculum directives as mandated by the State, and in providing innovative and challenging educational experiences for our children. Kathie Schwartz and Margaret Bennett have done an outstanding job on the Board and, together with Jackie Veliky, deserve our support this coming election day.
Have a question or news tip? Contact editor Joseph M. Gerace at Joseph.Gerace@patch.com, or find us on Facebook and Twitter. For news straight to your inbox every morning, sign up for our daily newsletter.