What Would You Fix with a Simple "Poof!"?


This is the third article in a series. In an effort to better understand what voters want to know about the seven candidates for the Board of Education, we invited the community to send in questions. Each candidate was given the same set of ten questions and were invited to respond to any six of them. They had six days to submit their answers. The questions ranged from handling division on the BOE to keeping school taxes low and to more pointed questions about book banning and school segregation.

Five of the seven candidates responded by the deadline. Juan Pabon sent his late and will be included in the remaining articles. We have not yet heard from Jim Smith.

We will present the responses in a series of articles, publishing them in collections that will allow the community to directly compare responses from the various candidates. Responses are listed in no particular order and the order will vary from article to article. The first one tackled the question of keeping taxes low and was the only question that all five respondents chose as one of their six to answer. The second looked into the candidates’ specific backgrounds and asked them to pinpoint some of the issues they see in the district.

This article will cover the candidates’ “dream” changes to the Clifton Public School District.

If you had a magic wand, what is the first thing you’d change about the Clifton school system?

Juan Pabon - “I believe the first thing that needs to be improved is inclusivity and interaction. By this I mean that Clifton is a city full of residents from everywhere. Some are born and raised Cliftonites, and others have moved to our city from different cities, counties, and countries. Nonetheless, all of them are our community and we should include them. Whether this be by translating documents in other languages for parents, or getting parents from other cultures to interact more with their local schools, providing a safe and inclusive school district is key. By improving parent interaction, they can better learn their kids and educators can work with parents to make sure every student is getting the necessary and adequate care and education.”

Fahim Abedrabbo - “The first thing I would change with my magic wand is expanding resources, staff, and personnel in special education. Parents of the special education population feel lost in having conversations and advocating for their children, to the extent that many parents hire legal professionals to advocate on their behalf. Each student in education is different, so the conversation needs to be different. Parents should feel comfortable to have a dialogue with the administration. Every student should have an individualized learning experience and be able to thrive in our school system.”

Joseph Siano - “If I had a magic wand and could make one change to the Clifton school system, it would be to ensure equality and acceptance for all students. As an educational institution, schools should act as an anchor of diversity and inclusivity. We need to create classrooms where each student feels comfortable expressing their own unique identities without fear of discrimination or judgment.”

Tanya Suarez - “With a magic wand, I would really like to see Clifton schools embrace a truly inclusive model of education. This is possible by the use Universal Design for Learning, a set of practices and strategies that make the classroom accessible for all kinds of learners, as well as implementing The Index for Inclusion which sets a pathway for schools and districts to embrace the mindsets and strategies that are needed to have a truly inclusive education environment. Truly inclusive education allows for students with all learning abilities to learn alongside one another throughout the day, not just during certain times of the day. It allows for students to get their learning needs met within the classroom without parents having to go through painstaking obstacles. Inclusive education is helpful for all students, both with and without disabilities because it creates learning environments that are rooted in compassion and understanding. It allows for students with disabilities to be valued and treated with dignity. For neurotypical and able-bodied students, a truly inclusive environment allows them to learn what it takes to understand differences in their community and rise to meet the needs that arise. Truly inclusive education does take time and concerted effort to achieve, is remarkable when in full practice, and is certainly possible if we believe it to be.”

Joe Canova - “I would ensure every student has access to the best educational opportunities, in and out of school regardless of their background including smaller class sizes, food, and technology.”


Thank you to the candidates who took the time to share their thoughts with us. Check The Clifton Times for upcoming articles, covering more community questions for our candidates!

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