three children reading books sitting on cushions

I ran for the school board in Pleasantville because I believe all children deserve to receive the best educational and emotional support. I’m a mother of three students who currently attend Pleasantville public schools, and my fourth child will be enrolling this fall. Pleasantville is a diverse city in southern New Jersey with classrooms filled with Black and Latino students and teachers. Which is why I was surprised when my son told me how rare it is for his lessons to mention the history and contribution of communities of color in this country.

Learning about the lack of accurate history being taught, and the reality that students of color and those living in poverty were denied the same resources present in nearby school districts pushed me to run for the school board. I was determined that these students have a fair opportunity to succeed. When I was elected, I was truly honored to have the chance to work with my fellow board members and the rest of the community to make our school district reach the potential that I know it can reach.

Now, I feel like we are really starting to see change, and that the students can see it too. Just last month, the high school held their first Juneteenth celebration. While that is a great start, I don’t want it to end there. I’m hoping for next year to be a community-wide event that gives students a clear understanding of the past and a chance to celebrate the future. To me, being on the school board makes me feel like I can make a real difference in the education of my children, and of all the children in my community. If I had to say something to all the parents in the district, it would be to not be afraid to run for something, join an organization, or find a way to get involved in making our schools safer, healthier places.

Cassandra Clements

School Board Member, Pleasantville Board of Education

We needed 283 votes to save our school. Little Red is a K-4 school, the only school in Croydon. The older students are allowed to choose one of the nearby middle and high schools to attend, and our district covers the expenses. That’s how the original budget worked at least.  

We got our last big snowstorm in March, on the day of the annual school budget vote. Anti-public-school extremists used the resulting low turnout to slash the district budget in half. It passed and I was in disbelief. With the new budget, Little Red would close, and Croydon parents would have to pay $8,000- $9,000 per student to send them to public schools. I was devastated thinking of what this meant for my 3 children and all the students I taught every day.  

Other parents felt just like I did. Stand up for Croydon Students, the organization we eventually formed, started off as just a group of worried parents trying to figure out how to protect our children. We eventually found a way that would allow for a budget re-vote, but only if we were able to turn out 283 voters. Croydon is home to about 800 people, and in my time on the school board, only about 50 of them usually came out to vote.

So, we got to work. We spent the next few weeks drafting up petitions, posting lawn signs, calling neighbors, and knocking on doors. To see so many people come together to protect our children, it felt good to know that your neighbors really care about the community.  

It was the first week of May and the YMCA camp dining hall was packed with friends and neighbors. Still, we couldn’t risk not having enough voters turn up, and spent the morning calling to remind everyone how important it was to come out, vote, and protect our schools. The hall was bubbling with energy as the vote was counted, and in a landslide vote of 377 – 2, we won. Weeks of hard work paid off.  

In that moment, we had stood up against extreme politicians to say no to privatizing our schools, that we would fight to make sure that all our students had a quality education. We proved that when we fight together, we win.  


Thomas Moore
High School STEM Teacher, New Hampshire