Andrew Mandel writes:
There will be plenty to say in the days and weeks ahead. Right now, however, after spending an incredible day with such a special group of people, I am of course feeling very sad that our candidates will not be officially representing the district’s students as board members next year. I know they will be strong advocates regardless, but I wanted to see them with official decision-making authority over the system their families use every day. In my view, that is simply what is right. That did not happen tonight.
We ran an incredible campaign. Our candidates worked for over 100 days. We had over 100 volunteers over the course of the campaign, with people calling, knocking, chanting, donating, joining weekly conference calls, building billboards, posting lawn signs, driving vans, filming commercials, and dancing in gorilla costumes at the corner of 45 and 59 (really!). In the gymnasium tonight before we got the results, as I was going around and thanking everyone, I was — and am — quite confident that WE WON when it came to building our team. YOU ALL HAVE BEEN ABSOLUTELY AMAZING, and we have only begun the work of growing our team of diverse, committed, persistent advocates for public education.
Meanwhile, I have been told that non-public school voters were motivated, in part, by fear that East Ramapo might streamline non-public school busing like Ramapo Central did. We will need to understand those fears better in order to make greater in-roads in the future.
It is also the case that the opponents’ campaign was very well-organized on Election Day. Our excellent poll watchers reported upsetting incidents that do not serve to bolster people’s confidence in the process and must be investigated, but the result was decisive. Moreover, one of the new school board members, Joel Freilich, had reached out to me this week, extending an olive branch and wanting to have a meal regardless of the outcome of the race. If this was genuine, I hope that he and the other new school board members are prepared to demonstrate that they now represent 8,500 children attending public school and need to act as if these children were their children if they want to achieve unity and progress in the coming year.
To that end, we need to see a new budget in June that focuses on public school needs, as the law has stated. This is not about taking away things from the non-public schools but rather prioritizing the needs of children who are still bouncing back from years of critical cuts. So, a week or two of rest, but then back at it for the work in June and beyond.