With the official petition for converting Montclair’s Board of Education to an elected model having received only 70% of the 1,500 valid signature sheets we hope to present to the Township clerk we have an immediate need to gain more valid signatures. (The legal minimum is 1,020, but we want to create a large cushion to avoid any problems with disqualification of individual signatures.) Here are some ways you can help us reach that goal.
Reach out virtually
Write an email, text, PM or call neighbors, parents of your children’s classmates, and other local friends and acquaintances. Inform them about the campaign (see talking points below), and ask them to sign the online petition, which you can find here. You can also ask the campaign at email@example.com for access to the voter file we have been assembling, for leads on friends and acquaintances you may be forgetting, or others you might contact. Meanwhile, we have been spreading word of the campaign on social, but it would be useful for others to do so as well in more targeted and sustained ways, by (for example) adding references and links to the petition in relevant comment threads.
Reach out in real life
You can help gather signatures and spread the word by bringing a printed copy of the petition to those neighbors who haven’t yet signed. Drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can send you a list of doors on your block to knock on, as well as printed copies of the petition and instructions on returning them (you can also find a printable PDF of the signature sheet here). Note that canvassing offers an excellent opportunity for community service for civic-minded students, and the folks whose doors we’ve knocked on already were delighted to be contacted.
April 17th and 18th outdoor canvassing days
Weather permitting, on Saturday April 17th and Sunday, April 18th we will be setting up “petition tables” in various locations around town, and leading other outdoor outreach activities to cap off the petition drive. Anyone who is interested in taking part should let us know at email@example.com or via this Google form.
Making the case
Below is some suggested messaging that you can use when either emailing or calling friends/family members in town. Note that anyone can sign the petition as long as they are registered to vote in Montclair, and that other information can be found in this F.A.Q.
- Montclair is now one of only a handful of municipalities in New Jersey where mayors rather than voters decide who sits on the BOE, and given current trends could soon be the last where residents are denied this most basic voting right.
- The appointed BOE system has failed to do the things it is supposed to do better than an elected BOE, including fostering a board that is diverse and rich in relevant skills, and keeping politics and discord out of local education policy.
- An elected BOE is likely to be more accountable and transparent, and to focus on the needs of students and families rather than politicians and special interests.
- Montclair is falling behind towns with elected boards in many measures of educational success, including the achievement gap.