Last week, the local media reported that the Board of Education would vote on a measure to limit public comments at their monthly meetings. When I attended the Board of Education meeting, I realized that the policy change was not on the agenda and learned that members approved it at a caucus meeting a few days prior. There was no advanced notice ahead of the caucus meeting that mentioned this policy change because the Board of Education Policy Committee did not meet this month. I, as well as other parents throughout the city, am surprised by this very significant, unannounced policy change made by the board members.
During the past few years, we’ve heard board members claim accountability and transparency while taking actions (this policy change) that contradict the claims. The defense of our board members and some members of the public is that the environment at meetings discourages others from attending. Do some meetings get tense and uneasy? Yes, however it is because there are a lot of parents, educators, and community members who are very passionate about our public schools in Jersey City. We shouldn’t paint passionate Jersey City residents with a broad, negative brush to excuse an action to subdue public comments and concerns. As we move forward, we can only ask our board members to give all Jersey City residents the courtesy and respect they deserve. This means respecting public comments and concerns, inviting dialogue and conversations from all residents, and truly being transparent with their actions.