Tonight, PEF will hold its annual School Board Candidate Forum. I’ll be listening for the candidates to talk about the needs of our children. Do we have enough teachers? Are classrooms overcrowded? How do we reduce the use of suspensions? Will every child have access to arts and music? Will every child have access to the internet and books? How do we improve the performance of English language learners and special needs children?

Chances are, however, that we will hear about the needs of adults. Who is being hired? Who is being terminated? Are we getting enough of “ours” whoever ours is?

But who will ask the quality question?

Our performance on state and national assessments are dismal. Kennedy and Eastside still appear on national lists as dropout factories. We have some of the lowest performing elementary schools in the state.

To be sure, these are unpleasant truths. They require leadership from our representatives.  They require placing the needs of children first and confronting our complacency. Either you have to think that Paterson children are unable to learn or we are doing schooling wrong and need radical change. It requires us to admit that people we like are unable to do the job.

So tonight, I’ll be listening for a discussion of the needs of our children.  I’ll be listening for a vision of excellence for Paterson.  I want more than a friendly face.

BTW, here’s the link to PEF’s voter’s guide.