My name is Ellen Simon and I am a public school mom. I’m running for a seat on the Jersey City Board of Education because I believe every child in this city should have access to an excellent education.
With other activists, I have fought for a national superintendent search, safe drinking water for every child and moving breakfast to the first fifteen minutes of the school day so no child starts the day hungry.
I’m happy to say that our efforts are bearing fruit.
Under a new superintendent, our schools are seeing unprecedented progress.
Last year, the superintendent, Dr. Marcia Lyles, asked school administrators to seek students at risk of dropping out and get them the help they needed to stay in school. Our staff and administrators, most of whom are superb and dedicated, rose to the challenge.
The total dropouts for the district fell to 178 last school year, the lowest on record, down from a high of 568 in 2005-2006. Now the district plans to follow up with those students and find a way to ensure they get a high school degree or its equivalent.
Building on work begun earlier by Susan Curry at SEOC, I filed a public record request last year for the district’s latest lead results. Then I shared them with a Virginia Tech professor who won a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship for his work on this topic.
Our worst fountain, at Bright Street Academy, had so much lead that the water sampled could be classified as toxic waste. My report was picked up by NBC in New York. The district then tested every water source, including sinks where PreK children brushed their teeth, some of which were shut because of high lead levels.
The district had known about this problem for seven years, but it took new leadership before it tested every water outlet and developed a district-wide plan to fix our children’s water.
I’ve advocated, along with the Jersey City NAACP and Advocates for Children of New Jersey, for moving federally subsidized free breakfast to the first 15 minutes of the school day.
Half our children were in danger of starting the day hungry last year. Thanks to our new leadership, schools like PS 12 have moved breakfast to the start of the day. The number of children eating breakfast in school at PS 12 grew from 40 in January to 370 of the 390 total students by the end of last school year. I hope more district schools will do the same this year.
I have worked already on behalf of every child in the district and I ask you to give me the opportunity to continue this work. We will never be a nation of opportunity for all if our schools fail our poorest children. I went every public school in Jersey City to succeed and every child to have a chance to achieve his or her own success.
I hope you will vote for me, Ellen Simon (1P), along with my running mates Jessica (Rosero) Daye (1I), Micheline Amy (3I) and Carol Lester (6J) on Nov. 5. Our children – all our children – deserve excellent schools.
Thank you very much
Board of Education candidate
Co-founder, Parents for Progress