By Mark (Mendy) Schwartz/Co-Publisher, The Jewish Link and Deputy Mayor, Teaneck
This past year has shown us very clearly how extraordinarily important it is to have members of the board of education who have, as their sole priority and responsibility, the children who attend school and live in the Teaneck school district. The fact that the Teaneck schools did not fully reopen after the March 2020 lockdown until fall 2021 is unconscionable to me and most people I know.
The school board acted against the recommendations of the state, the county and even the CDC in keeping the schools closed for so long, with such limited and paltry services, particularly for students with special needs who cannot learn effectively on Zoom. This happened in a community where many of the school children attend private schools, and it is a testament to the safety of schools
being open last year that all of them operated without major incident, even before vaccines had become available. The members of the Board of Education who “heralded” our community’s children through 18 months of substandard learning should be decisively voted out of office.
That is why Rachel Secemski (line #5), Darryl Greene (line #6) and Yassine Elkaryani (line #7) have my full support. All of these excellent candidates have agreed that their primary goals as Board of Education members will be to educate our children.
They also agree, as running mates, to work toward eliminating unnecessary waste in the school budget, to delivering long- and short-term plans to improve the district’s infrastructure, and improving overall services like transportation, technology and food. They also hope to focus on mental health and drug use prevention, and to improve curricula and work toward developing plans to increase school ratings in the state and nationwide.
Rachel Secemski is a frontline healthcare worker, working throughout the pandemic as a physical therapist, with children with special needs. She also is the parent of a student in the district, which she believed failed him and all the other children in the district who have special needs. “I am running solely to help the children of Teaneck succeed… I will push for what is best for our students at all times. I will work hard to be a voice for all students and families as a member of the BOE,” she said.
Darryl Greene, a member of Teaneck’s planning board, has lived in Teaneck since 1976 and attended Benjamin Franklin Middle School and Teaneck High School. He wants to work to improve the lives of those students attending these and all the district schools, in the realms of curriculum and after-school programming. “I don’t just understand the problems facing the Teaneck school district. I have lived them,” he said.
Since the pandemic, he added, “handfuls of kids have fallen behind and we need to get them tutors and resources to catch them up so they continue to excel. Likewise, we need to focus on the gifted students by expanding resources for the Teaneck Academically Gifted Program (TAG). We are in the business of educating our youth, and if elected I will use my position to help the children of Teaneck succeed,” Greene said.
Yassine Elkaryani immigrated from Morocco 14 years ago, and has made his mark in Teaneck as an active community member. He has served on various youth advisory boards, is chair of Teaneck’s community relations advisory board, and has been involved in his own community and in his mosque, in particular helping immigrants improve their financial literacy. “One of the key items I would like to focus on is a modern curriculum. We need to promote financial literacy and understand that even though a four-year college degree is highly respected, not everyone will elect to do that. Many young adults are interested in various trades such as carpentry, construction, plumbing and technology, to name a few. We need to offer programs that will help those students work toward specialized certifications. At age 18, students can start working toward accreditations like real estate or life insurance licenses. Incorporating these options into the curriculum will jump-start the process and allow students to seek the credentials needed for a particular trade,” said Elkaryani.
“I am dedicated to Teaneck and to its families and I consider it an honor to be part of such an important entity like the school board,” he added.
In short, I am proud to consider these three individuals worthy partners who will prioritize the education of Teaneck’s children as their only role as members of the Board of Education. That’s why I strongly encourage you to vote #5, #6 and #7 for school board this November 2.