“The school board nominees include five for a four-year term and one for a two-year term. The nominees are Janet Leung Fonss, Jennifer Hladlick, Erica Schwedel, incumbent Penny Rashin and Fatou Niang for the four-year term. Karen Willet is eligible to be elected for the two-year term.”
“…98% of the time we kept politics out of Board of Ed decisions. So we have never been a red Board, a blue Board, a purple Board. We have been a students-first Board, and all the decisions that have been made by the Board of Education and by the administration and the teachers have been done with the best interests of the children in mind.”
- Penny Rashin, BOE Member running for reelection
We can't describe what happened at the Republican caucus this July better than our BOE candidates, so we'll let them do the talking. You can find a link to the NewCanaanite.com's coverage of the Republican caucus at the end of the BOE Slate's LTE below.
To our New Canaan community,
The upcoming Board of Education election on November 2nd will be one of the most consequential BOE elections in New Canaan history. At the Republican caucus in July, three of New Canaan’s most respected leaders were ousted from the BOE, despite their success in keeping our children in school during Covid more than any other district in Fairfield County and despite continued academic excellence. They were replaced by four Republican candidates who have no prior experience volunteering in or engaging with the schools or the BOE, all of whom appear to have been originally motivated to run for the BOE for the narrow reason of ensuring masks are optional in school. While the taglines of their platform “transparency, engagement, oversight, excellence” sound reasonable on the surface, their stated agenda is alarming.
The slate of Republican candidates is calling for a wholesale change in the way our BOE works in order to promote a partisan agenda. They are attempting to use the BOE and our schools as a platform for divisive national political issues that have never been at issue in New Canaan’s schools. Stating “we need to fight for our core values and keep race-obsessed agenda out of our schools,” they have declared New Canaan “a red town in a blue state”’ and expressed a willingness to “fight.” These candidates have repeatedly praised [Superintendent of Schools] Dr. [Bryan] Luizzi and the administration for “excellent results,” yet they have called for more oversight and transparency, implying that “Critical Race Theory” is “creeping” into our schools and that our school leadership and teachers are somehow “erasing the core values on which this country was founded” and causing students to “hate America.” The candidates have characterized our current excellent Board as being “too deferential” to Superintendent Dr. Luizzi, who is undeniably the best superintendent in Connecticut.
Critical Race Theory is not being taught in our schools. New Canaan writes its own curriculum. Partisan politics have never played a role in New Canaan schools; rather the emphasis has always been on the best ways to prepare our children for success. New Canaan Public Schools have consistently posted top academic results. In 2019, Niche.com named NCPS the #1 public school in Connecticut and in the top 1% of public school districts in the United States. We rank #1 in our District Reference Group (DRG) for English/Language Arts and Math. We have excellent college admission results, with 30% of our high school students gaining admission to the most competitive colleges.
Politics aside, the Republican candidates are inexperienced. Six of the nine incoming BOE members (5/9 if Penny Rashin is re-elected) will be new, leaving a substantial vacuum when experience and institutional knowledge are desperately needed. We are losing 21 years of collective BOE experience while managing a pandemic, new start time implementation and the usual pace of improvements that keep NCPS on top. Our team is ready to fill that vacuum. We are a group of experienced, well known and trusted candidates who have been actively involved in New Canaan schools and in the community throughout our children’s NCPS experience and beyond. Our own children range in grade from elementary to post-graduate and we are committed to representing the needs of elementary, middle and high school families.
We are former PTC/PFA Board members (including 3 PTC Presidents) and community leaders, including a highly valued current BOE member, Penny Rashin, who has served for 14 years. We understand school budgets and operations, the importance of fiscal prudence and we have demonstrated our ability to work collaboratively with parents, the administration and the greater community. We have the knowledge that will be needed to work with the Board of Finance, the Town Council and other town officials and community organizations. We are not candidates raising our hands to serve our schools and town to advance a personal agenda or for just one campaign season – we have been showing up consistently throughout the years.
Doing what’s right for our kids and keeping politics out of the classroom will be our guiding principle. We will make sure our curriculum stays at the forefront of innovation to ensure our children are equipped with the skills to be successful in the 21st century. We put children first and we are committed to keeping our kids safe and healthy in school. We care about each and every child’s happiness and success—from those who are already succeeding at the top to those who need additional support. We will continue our partnership of trust and collaboration with Dr. Luizzi, his leadership team, and our world class teachers who have made New Canaan the premier school district that it is today. We have a great deal of respect for this team due to their long record of outstanding student achievement outcomes. Respect, not deference, is the operative word, and we will actively oversee budgets and curriculum to make sure both continue to align with New Canaan’s expectations and standards.
On November 2, voters will have a choice between preservation and disruption. Our schools are our town’s most valued asset and predictor of real estate values and our slate will protect those values. We are the candidates who will protect our schools and move them forward.
Stay the Course of Excellence – Vote Row A for BOE.
Please reach out to us to join our team or if you have any questions. We want to hear from you.