We enthusiastically write this letter in support of Nanette Melkonian for the Port Washington Board of Education. We are Port residents with kids at Schreiber and Weber who believe that the board’s most important function is to ensure that our schools provide an excellent education for all students in town – not just those whose parents make the most noise.
While we respect the commitment of everyone who has served on the board (and those running), we feel strongly that an independent, fierce advocate for equity in public education is needed more than ever. Nan is that candidate.
While it would be a gross understatement to say that the past year has been academically, socially and emotionally challenging for our kids, a return to how things used to be would be a grave disappointment.
The pandemic has forced us to consider how children can best learn under difficult circumstances, while the uprisings in opposition to white supremacy have shown us the urgency in examining exactly what our children are learning. Serving on the board of education is trying under the best of circumstances, but especially now when there are so many differing opinions about how to move forward.
A lifelong educator and advocate, Nan understands that we must first understand the community’s diverse educational needs before searching for solutions. She is committed to (re-)building trust, improving communication between the district and its families, and pushing back against the all-too-often unjust and ineffective educational status quo.
The board is critical to figuring out what public education will look like on the other side of covid and in the midst of the ongoing awakening to the systemic inequities of our institutions, including our education system.
Nan is the candidate who best understands that far too many Port students do not feel at home in our schools. She is the one who is committed to ensuring that Port schools truly reflect the diversity of our community, from curriculum to language access to hiring to disciplinary policies to parental involvement in school committees and on the board itself.
Electing Nan will not guarantee that all Port families will have a seat at the table of educational power in our district, but we can be sure that she will use her platform to fight for everyone – and especially those who are too often left behind. As but one small example, to our knowledge, Nan is the only candidate who has published campaign materials in a language other than English.
There are three seats up for grabs in the election. Nan is running against three incumbents and three challengers who are running together on respective tickets. (Although you are allowed to vote for up to three candidates, keep in mind that you are not required to do so.)
If you feel as strongly as we do about electing a lifelong champion of public education generally, and Port families and students specifically, we hope you will cast your ballot on May 18 for Nan Melkonian. If she is elected, we have no doubt that she will work tirelessly to make our schools – and our board – truly welcoming for all.
Jamie and Michael Mandel