Wednesday, July 08, 2020

This week’s edition is our annual election edition, and as always we encourage and ask all of our readers to get out and vote this coming Tuesday. Although there are no congressional seats up for grabs and the presidential election is a year away, there is a very important election in our core town of Teaneck: the Board of Education (BOE) election.

If we were to sit down together with you, our Teaneck-based readers, to show you how many hundreds of dollars, if not thousands more annually, you might be paying on your township tax bill due to the results of these BOE elections,  would you not consider spending only 15-20 minutes at most this coming Tuesday to do something about it? We believe you would and hopefully you will.

We currently deliver The Jewish Link of New Jersey weekly to approximately 3,700 households in the township of Teaneck and it’s certainly one of our core communities and readership. We cannot emphasize enough how critical it is that local residents vote in this election, as the Board of Education is at a crossroads. Teaneck’s school district cost per student are among the highest in the state, at a level of almost $28,000 per student in 2017-2018, and yet the performance numbers don’t match the spending. Teaneck students continue to lag behind their fellow students in math literacy, and 27% of the students in Teaneck are classified as needing some kind of services, compared to 15% statewide.

While we rarely endorse candidates, we are extremely concerned about several significant issues: that our high taxes are not yielding stronger academic achievement, that our special education programs are not adequately servicing them and/or over-classifying students, and we fear that the leadership of the Board of Education is not adequately concerned about these issues with a plan to manage it without additional spending.

Therefore, we want to strongly endorse an incumbent, Martin Ramirez (Line 3), and a new challenger, Yassine Elkaryani (Line 5) for the BOE.

Martin Ramirez is a member of our local Jewish community, and as a former classroom teacher before attending law school he has shown experience to thoughtfully work out these issues. He was first elected to the board three years ago and has served admirably, collaboratively and thoughtfully. Yassine Elkarayani is a member of Teaneck’s growing Muslim community and has been very active there and in our township’s activities. Ramirez and Elkarayani are running together on the same ticket and have stated clearly that their concerns and goals are aligned. What we know of both of them is that they will be responsible stewards of our children’s educations and those of our neighbors.

We also want to add one small thing that truly concerns us. In one of their first Instagram posts, the other Teaneck residents running for Board of Education posted a defamatory claim about the Jewish and minority communities in Teaneck, particularly in indicating that such communities want to defund the new universal Pre-K program in order to “redirect funds to a certain community.” While the post on Instagram attributed to these candidates was deleted, and they later apologized and took responsibility for it, we are concerned that their words will have a lasting impact. We also cannot understand how that post could have been written and posted in the first place. Please see the image (above) of the post above that we have saved and printed here, and read it carefully, as literally every word in it seems directed against our readership and the Jewish community. We feel it’s important to share our concerns regarding this divisive, overtly untrue language.

All in all, dear Teaneck voters and Jewish Link voters, we want to encourage every voting member of our community to get out and vote on Tuesday, for Martin Ramirez and Yassine Elkarayani. If you have any questions, please email us at [email protected].

By Moshe Kinderlehrer and 
Mark (Mendy) Schwartz, Co-Publishers, Jewish Link of New Jersey