As I write this letter, the board of education has just voted to reinstate the contract of superintendent David Aderhold.
It is no secret that I am firmly opposed to this contentious decision, but it has been made, and I don’t think it’s helpful to dwell on its wisdom.
This letter is about productive steps that we can all take to ensure that the next five years are as successful as possible.
1. Get more and better data. There was an astute remark at tonight’s meeting (June 27) about a lack of hard numbers on Dr. Aderhold’s decisions.
I think focusing on the numbers would help all parties have a clearer way to evaluate his changes.
Critically, members of the public should have a voice in which metrics are tracked, and the data should be ideally collected by an independent ombudsman, so that there is no room for doubting the story the data tells.
2. Reflect on the board’s process. One is forced to acknowledge that this momentous decision was taken with about two weeks’ notice.
There were arguments given by the board president in favor. Perhaps they exactly characterize the situation. But the board president will always have such arguments, and there will always be people who agree with them.
We need to examine whether we’re OK with fast-tracking decisions like this, especially since those in the majority on tonight’s issue could find themselves in the minority on tomorrow’s.
3. Confront the reality that, for whatever reason, demography is a good predictor for whether an individual is likely to have opposed or supported Aderhold in tonight’s meeting.
The probability of supporting him conditional on being white was quite high, as was the probability of opposing him conditional on being Asian.
There is no reason to believe that this doesn’t roughly hold in aggregate (of course, such statements won’t hold exactly; there will always be exceptions).
This isn’t to say we have a racial divide. I don’t think anyone is voting on strictly racial grounds.
But clearly we have some kind of culture clash, which at least fairly correlates with race. And while it’s easier in the short term to leave such realities unspoken, ultimately it makes for weaker communities.
Lastly, I would be remiss if I did not congratulate Dr. Aderhold on his achievement, and wish him luck in his time at WW-P.
Tonight’s remarks were fairly evenly split. That shows he has a lot of bridges to mend with about half the community, but it also shows that he’s earned the respect and trust of the other half.
Nobody would be happier than I if I could speak in five years saying he’s shown us the David Aderhold he’s shown them.
— Arnav Sood, West Windsor