Breast Cancer Awareness Month reminds women to get checked; Support Education Matters team | Letters

Mammograms save lives

Once again it’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month and, like the great comic Lily Tomlin, I’m looking for intelligent life on the planet … or, more specifically, some meaning for my own personal experience with the disease.

It really gives me a warm fuzzy feeling when a woman tells me she got a mammogram because I brought the matter to her attention (sometimes I just bug the hell out of someone until she makes that doctor’s appointment) and once someone told to me that I saved her life. Terrific! That’s as good as it gets.

To all my sister survivors, I urge you to try to get at least one woman, who has not been attentive, to get a mammogram. Of course, I would suggest skipping the scare tactics … just not a good way to achieve your objective. And if you can muster enough physical and emotional stamina, you might find it rewarding to be an advocate for some beleaguered lady who just received the bad news.

And, if you can’t do that, no problem.

One disease does not fit all physically or emotionally, and it’s up to the individual as to what she can or cannot handle. The first article I ever did on this subject years ago emphasized that early detection via a mammogram wasn’t lucky, it was smart. Now, never getting a mammogram and never getting breast cancer is lucky — just like playing roulette.

The late singer/actress Nell Carter was once in a public service ad saying, “Girl, if you don’t get your breasts examined, you ought to get your head examined.” Whoever wrote that bit of philosophy was sooooo right. So, again, as I say every October: Stay well … stay vigilant … and stay alive.

Jeanette Kronick, North Bergen; Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Research advocate

Re-elect BOE incumbents

When Jersey City schools closed on March 16, I certainly did not expect to be here in early October proctoring Zoom sessions for my 6-year-old twins in between juggling work assignments. But here we are — in the middle of a world health crisis that has altered American lives in ways most of us found unimaginable only seven months ago.

It is easy under these circumstances to point fingers and find faults, but not to single out merits or give credit. But I write to you today to do just that.

Before COVID-19, I was, at best, mildly interested in our Board of Education and the inner workings of the Jersey City School District. With so much at stake, mildly interested was not going to cut it this year.

For the past seven months, I have forced myself to listen through each lengthy JCBOE meeting, gritting my teeth through the minutia, the time-consuming protocols; the unanswered and unanswerable questions; the frustration of parents and teachers alike; and the technical difficulties. I expected contentious interactions, animosity, finger-pointing and unworkability. What I heard was not that.

As I sit here, filling out my election ballot and reflecting on the Education Matters slate’s performance, I must give credit to their efforts, dedication and commitment to Jersey City’s children. The Jersey City School District has had a long history of turmoil and inefficiencies. The appointment of Franklin Walker as superintendent put us on the right path.

There is much territory left to conquer in the district’s upward climb, but what I have witnessed over these months is a superintendent interested in doing the climbing and a board interested in working with him to put our children first.

Many might question Mr. Richardson, Mr. Shaw, and Ms. Verdibello’s vote to approve Superintendent Walker’s budget and raise the school tax levy earlier this year. Our own mayor has called the 9-0 vote “irresponsible.”

As a parent and a taxpayer, I call the action brave. It would have been easy to use a pandemic as an excuse to underfund our schools further and reduce critical personnel, to say again, “not the time,” “not essential.” But what every parent across our nation has had to contend with this year is how much schools, teachers, school nurses, special educators, school janitors, proper running water, and safe infrastructure are, in fact, essential. Mr. Richardson, Mr. Shaw, and Ms. Verdibello, with their long history and ties to the Jersey City community, understand that. Each understands that “easy” is not the path forward for our school district.

At every board meeting, community meeting, and direct interaction, I have experienced these three board members actively bringing the concerns of parents and teachers to the forefront — relying on their own experience as parents and members of this community to address those concerns and ensure the safety and future of our children. Over the last few weeks, Mr. Richardson, Mr. Shaw, and Ms. Verdibello have been visiting our schools and observing the work happening to make the buildings safe for reopening. It is easy to look at numbers and demand that schools reopen, but it takes a keen understanding of the myriad of issues plaguing our infrastructure to do so responsibly. Their opponents may accuse them of supporting a “one-size-fits-all approach,” in reopening our schools, I praise them for being willing to put all our children first and for their refusal to perpetuate further inequities.

I cast my vote for Gina, Lekendrick, and Lorenzo because I am confident that the Education Matters candidates will lead our district forward, both through this pandemic and beyond. As an exhausted, tax-paying, working mom of three and long-term Jersey City resident, I want my children back in school; I want all of Jersey City’s children safely back in school.

Liliana Santos, Jersey City; Frank R. Conwell School 3 parent

Re-elect dedicated BOE members

I am a mother of an eighth grader attending Infinity Institute. Since my son was in first grade, I have been a parent volunteer and closely followed the work of the school district and the Board of Education. In the years that I spent helping my child’s schools with fundraising and fighting for resources, I learned how important it is to stay informed about the work of the school board.

I believe that, in order to be effective, school board members must have a thorough understanding of school operations and must be attuned to the diverse needs of families in the district. A relationship with the parent community helps the school board and the district to best serve the students.

That is why I would like to enthusiastically express my support for the Education Matters team in the current school board election. I have watched Lorenzo Richardson, Gina Verdibello and Lekendrick Shaw work incredibly hard listening to the needs of all families and do everything possible to reach the best solutions for all. In the times of seemingly endless crises, with our schools battling funding shortages, safety concerns, and an unprecedented global pandemic, Lorenzo, Gina and Lekendrick have been with us every step of the way.

It meant so much to me, as a long-time parent volunteer and former parent council president at School 16, to see school board members so invested in maintaining a constant communication with us and trying to serve our children’s needs as best as possible.

Lorenzo, Gina and Lekendrick attended parent council meetings and hosted special parent committee meetings just to address our concerns and this helped them communicate our needs and our children’s needs to the district administration so more effectively.

Lorenzo, Gina and Lekendrick have undoubtedly proved their dedication to serving our children and I am one of the many parents who is proud to support them during this election. This Nov. 3, please vote Education Matters.

Svetlana Chinskiy Jersey City

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