BOE Member Joel Schwartz: Private Meeting Held With Education Commissioner, Disturbing

[The following was submitted to TLS by BOE member Joel Schwartz] I would like to share this thought. I was a bit disturbed after reading the article on The Lakewood Scoop regarding the UNITE meeting with the NJ Education Commissioner. I surmise that the purpose of this meeting was to seek ways to help improve the Lakewood School District, yet no representative of Lakewood Board of Education was part of this discussion nor were we even invited to attend this meeting.

We at the BOE are always looking for ways to improve our School district. Anyone who has attended recent BOE meetings (and I know that some of those who were part of the UNITE meeting do attend BOE meetings), know that the new board is strictly all about education and that we are a willing partner to a broader coalition to help turn around Lakewood’s School district.

In fact, in the few short months since the new BOE has taken office, there have been a host of positive changes throughout the entire district. Just this morning, I along with another board member, the Superintendent and her staff, did a walk through in some of our schools to conduct a professional development assessment .As we walked through the halls and classroom we were able to sense that the morale of both student and staff is up and that major changes are already taking place. Just the new dress code alone which was respected by all students showed a renewed sense of pride that we are all in it together under the banner ” WE ARE LAKEWOOD WE ARE SOMEBODY”.

I just want to reassure everyone that despite the negativity of the press and the undermining of the BOE by some individuals or groups, I will continue to remain focused at what the Lakewood residents elected me to do, which is to ensure that all student are given the opportunity to receive a thorough and efficient education, in a fiscally responsible manner.

–Sincerely, Joel Schwartz

BOE Member.

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  1. Joel,

    1. You say, “the new board is strictly all about education”. Not true. It is all about budget reduction, regardless of the devastating cost to education.

    2. You say, “negativity of the press and the undermining of the BOE” etc.
    Please don’t confuse legitimate criticism of the BOE with negativism and undermining. Especially when the BOE is back to stonewalling as a policy, and refusing to answer ‘uncomfortable’ questions and to provide essential public information.

    What is the BOE hiding? Why? Is this the ‘transparency’ platform the BOE promised?

  2. Are you kidding me – I am from the frum community BTW so no one should say this is coming from another side

    This BOE being run by some frum ehrlicha lakewood businessman will never succeed and is doomed for failure – You simply cannot manage a budget and business if you have not worked and toiled in that business and experienced it first hand – Works like that in facets of life – It simply will not work!!!

    If I would be part of the NJ BOE I would take this from the local group and hand it over to an outside organization to manage with some frum people involved but that are not swayed in any way by local politics

    I am sure all of you have the best intentions and deserve the credit but eventually you will wake up and realize this isn’t working – I just hope it isn’t to late and too much anti Semitism has not been caused by this.

    A fellow Lakewood Resident

  3. Mr. Schwartz,

    You complain that the acting administrator did not invite you to the table when discussing how to fix Lakewood schools. Funny, I have the same exact complaint.

    What is the impact of this slight to you and other members of the board by Acting Commissioner Cerf? Have you found the solutions to the tuition, state funding and educational opportunity problems? Have you submitted scores of proposals over the years backed by constitutional, statutory and regulatory sources, that will give all the people of Lakewood ownership stake in our schools and our success, only to fall upon deaf ears?

    I submitted a 39-page report to the superintendent in May 2011, elaborating the constitutional right of Lakewood mesivta boys to have “no English” while showing how Lakewood High School may legally bring free English education to girls and to boys in non-mainstream yeshivas and outside the tachum or whose parents so request, all in the place of their own choice.

    As long as our own citizens cannot access education, as long the people are not served, the district will not turn around. Certainly by bringing equity to education in Lakewood, we will bring excellence.

    I submitted a 74-page comprehensive report on NJ school funding and reform in May 2012. I reported per student reductions in state aid and a change in funding based on average daily attendance. Alternately, this will be only the third year this century state funding will be adjusted to reflect an increase or decrease in the student count. If we do not act to find ways to bring education to more children of our town who want an education, we will be locked-in to even lower state funding for years to come.

    I invested the last seven years writing papers on our unique situation in Lakewood and on school improvement in general while studying educational administration and the law, not to make money, but to set a vision to fix our district. You and the rest of the board have not acknowledged or responded positively or negatively to anything. Your inaction will cost our taxpayers and our children dearly. Your office is not about you— a public office is a public trust. It’s about the kids!

    Recent Supreme Court rulings and the current political climate encourage the kind of experimentation that will solve our tuition and state funding problems. There has been no more propitious time to bring equity in education to Lakewood.

  4. Mr Schwartz,

    As one of your most vocal supporters here on TLS, (and you could search all my comments re: BOE) I must tell you that I consider you at fault for not getting your message out.

    One thing that everyone realized over the past two years, and especially with the Tea Party movement, is that the voters are fed up with being taxed and being lies to. And voters want answers.

    I am constantly defending the new BoE here in TLS. But where are YOU? Why aren’t you explaining your positions, policies, and actions?

    You should be on TLS every two weeks explaining everything, and then the voters will be with you. Otherwise, you are allowing the special interests who are against you, to control the conversation.

  5. Mr. Schwartz–Was UNITE invited to meet with the Governor when he attended only one private school? I don’t recall reading a letter from you at that time that all parties should be invited.

    #6–Mr. Lang is consistently working and researching to improve the funding and education for ALL children; unfortunately, the board refuses to listen to someone who obviously knows more than they do. He is tireless in his campaign for a thorough and efficient education for everyone so read before you write.

  6. As a homeowner who is being heavily taxed to fund public school
    my primary goal is to lower my taxes ,,,I am very pro education but i dont want to pay for it
    as someone who voted for mr. schwartz i expect him to look out for my, and lots of other taxpayers hard earned money

  7. Lakewoods B.O.E. never had these problems 20 years ago. They knew how to run the school district. Maybe they can ask the old members for advice.

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