Wednesday, April 3, 2013

April 2013 School Board Elections -- Sean Monahan

Sean Monahan   Ballot Line: A2

What motivates you to seek this office/another term in this office? Its clear that education is the pathway to a good job in America. I will work to make sure that all children in New Brunswick are given every opportunity to succeed and have a good life.

For the past fifteen years a top priority in my life has been public service. In the past I have served as a volunteer EMT, a manager at a group home for adults suffering from autism, and as a lecturer at Rutgers University. I have also volunteered as a community organizer in New Brunswick on issues of public safety, the equitable sharing of resources and government transparency.

I am also a proud New Brunswick homeowner and the owner of a small business that I chose to start in our city. Most of all, I'm a hard worker who believes that when good people work together we can overcome any challenge. I will fight for the children in New Brunswick and I will work with anyone else who is willing to do the same.

What will be your top priorities as a School Board member/in a new term on the
School Board? I’m very concerned about the violence in our community. Some of the most important people to help stop this violence are the teachers and the social workers in our schools. I will ensure that they have all the support they need and that we have a sufficient number of social workers, including those who speak Spanish, helping New Brunswicks kids. I will work with them to develop smart anti-violence strategies.

Technology is rapidly changing what is expected from the American workforce. To prepare our children for the jobs of the future, we need to reinvigorate science and math teaching in our schools. There are numerous free and low cost technologies, such as open source programming languages, databases and electronics platforms that we could be teaching young people today to prepare them for these jobs. As someone who works with these technologies in my business, I will develop both a curriculum and after-school activities that provide access to these powerful new tools.

How will you seek to foster parent involvement in New Brunswick Public Schools? Every parent in our city wants their children to succeed at school. Many are working long hours to put food on the table and keep a roof overhead, especially in tough economic times. These families need extra support from the school system and I will explore the possibility of making school liaisons available to meet with parents after regular school hours to improve communication and help parents and teachers work together as a team. I also want to make mentors available to help kids with their homework.

Televising school board meetings on public access television and the Internet would be a great start to getting more parental and community involvement in the school system.

How will you ensure that students who are immigrants themselves or whose parents are immigrants receive equal and high-quality educational opportunities? I want to strengthen New Brunswick's bilingual education, especially in the early years, so that children who do not speak English at home will have the same opportunities as others.

I will also explore the possibility of dual-language education so that class could be taught in English as well as Spanish. Studies show that being able to speak two languages enhances cognitive function throughout your life. Moreover, being able to speak English and Spanish well is a skill that is very valuable in the business world.

It's also important that we recognize, honor and preserve the cultural background of all of New Brunswick's diverse communities. Diversity is an asset that should be embraced in our school system.

How will you ensure that the School District supports struggling students who are in danger of falling through the cracks? Too many New Brunswick high school students are not completing their education.
The school district should develop student retention strategies that address the fundamental
causes behind why so many students leave before getting their diploma. Issues such as financial needs, teen pregnancy, bullying and a lack of engagement in the subject matter have to be addressed.

We must make sure that our kids understand the value their education will have in the long run and we need to make learning useful, relevant, and enjoyable. We should focus on cultivating critical thinking, and not just the memorization of facts or teaching to the test.

We need to address the problem of social promotion and intervene to get kids back on track at the first sign of trouble before they fall behind, offering extra help in basic skills education and summer classes when necessary. We also must encourage students who have left school early to earn their GED through the adult school and help them get vocational and/or college training.

In addition to parents, how will you engage other stakeholders in the New Brunswick Public Schools, such as city residents, students, alumni, teachers, staff, and community institutions? I would facilitate the expansion of mentoring programs. Our city has such a tremendous resource in Rutgers University. Rutgers students have firsthand experience getting into college, and could help New Brunswick's children accomplish the exact same thing.

New Brunswick also benefits from a vibrant theatre and arts district, two major hospitals and two major healthcare corporations and numerous public service organizations. The school board should regularly meet with these stakeholders to find out how each of them can contribute in their own ways.

I will seek grants from big companies to provide the latest technologies New Brunswick students at no cost to the taxpayer. I would also like to see New Brunswick students working with our city's arts institutions, and the creation of big brother and big sister mentoring programs that will enable New Brunswick school alumni to give back to their community through mentoring.

1 comment:

  1. Mr. Monahan offers some really great ideas, and I hope that regardless of who wins the election, these ideas will be carried forward, particularly where it comes to dual language instruction.

    The benefits of bilingualism are many, and well-documented. Students who speak two languages consistently outperform their monolingual peers in math, science and even native language fluency. Dual-language instruction is long overdue in New Jersey schools.

    With the great numbers of Spanish- and English-speakers in our city, there is no reason for anyone to finish elementary school without becoming fluent in both these languages.