I am writing to support Yanping “Helen” Ming as a member of WW-P Board of Education in the coming election. I have known Helen since I relocated from China to West Windsor about six years ago. Our spouses knew each other from work-related channels.

When we arrived here, I knew very few people and felt very helpless in many ways. My husband encouraged me to get in touch with her. Initially, I didn’t expect to get much from her, since I knew she’s an accomplished business woman. With a little kid and two aging parents, she had a lot on her plate. However, as soon as we got connected, she went out of her way to help me and our family.

She went to our home to chat about things to do when settling down. She introduced us to local events and new friends. She encouraged our kids to play with each other so they could learn from each other. She also offered me advice on how to find a job. Today our kids are good buddies, and she is one of our closest friends.

An incident experienced by a friend also showed what a kind-hearted person Helen is. This friend, like me, also relocated from overseas to West Windsor and her family were struggling with English. One day her child got off the school bus at the wrong stop, and was nowhere to find.

Since she doesn’t drive, she called Helen and her husband for help. They drove around several communities until they finally found the kid. I was not surprised at all at Helen’s actions, because I have witnessed first-hand how she has helped our family.

In addition to offering us advice on how to adjust to the local life, Helen has repeatedly encouraged us to volunteer for local events. She has been a very active participant in school events, and has donated to charities such as American Heart Association, March of Dimes and local hospitals. She especially has a soft heart for little kids.

She once mentioned to me that when she retires, she would devote her life to causes advocating children’s rights. Helen, through her actions, has shown me what it means to be inclusive, considerate and a contributing member of the community.

— Shuangjun Lian, West Windsor

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The quality of my 7th grader and 5th grader childrens’ education is a prime and constant focus for me. The excellence of WW-P school district was one of the prime factors in my family’s decision to move to West Windsor in 2008. However, I have been getting increasingly alarmed by the constant nonsensical changes being introduced in the school curriculum and lack of parents’ say in the recent past.

I have attended many board of education meetings in the last couple of years where it has been impossible to get any answers from board or school administration. One gets the feel that none of parents’ concerns matter. I care about what my children learn in school and that there should be ample opportunities to further their learning by expanding/enriching a bit by bit.

It is this very fabric which is being threatened by the curriculum changes that have been made/are being made. As a school district we are focusing too much on standardized testing and teaching to test and compromising on subjects—e.g. upper elementary science and social studies. Students are given Chromebooks as early as grade 5 to take home. My son told me last year that many of the students are silently playing on Chromebooks while the teacher is in middle of a class.

Lack of appropriate quality and amount of homework to engage students in meaningful learning is another issue at the upper elementary level. Students under prepared in upper elementary and middle school, hit a wall when encountering high school.

Stress is an epidemic in our high schools. Counseling students and parents, cutting down on unnecessary and unrelenting school work for students, and ensuring students take courses as per their abilities are better ways to deal with student stress. Certainly reducing the rigor and putting artificial restrictions on all students is not the way to do so.

Helen Ming and Veronica Mehno are passionate about education. They are both well educated and have attended most of the board of education meetings in last couple of years. They have noticed the apathy and constant ignorance of parents’ concerns first hand. They have both done volunteering work for various PTAs and have noticed these issues from close quarters. It is my firm belief that given Helen and Veronica’s passion for education and their experience, they will serve the community very well as independent reviewers of school district administration instead of rubber stamping every proposal.

— Prabhat Tomar, West Windsor

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As we evaluate the candidates for school board from West Windsor, a key question is, “to what extent are the candidates committed to greater transparency and accountability?”

While residents may be pleased with the general high performance of our schools, teachers and students, we should be wary that so many decisions are made without open and adequate public input and discussion. Often, it seems as if the school board tries to keep as much of the decision-making process hidden from the public. And, if the school board members do not take the initiative and push hard for meaningful, public discussion and evaluation, then it just doesn’t happen. More often than not, the incumbent school board will approve the proposals made by the Superintendent or other administrators without challenging their assumptions, their data and/or their conclusions. Instead, the board acquiesces and “follows the leader”.

In her letter to the editor in the August 29 edition, Veronica Mehno described the dichotomy this created for her. She strongly supports the Bilingual Immersion Program. However, she is appalled at the processes and the lack of public participation that led to the decision to implement this program.

If you, too, would like a Board of Education that solicits and encourages public input and evaluation; that schedules meetings with greater advance public notice and at times of the year when more people can participate; that conducts more than a cursory review of proposals made by our education experts, there are only 2 West Windsor choices: Helen Ming and Veronica Mehno.

Both of these fine women have dedicated themselves to increasing the public’s ability to “be in the room where it happens.” Not only have they been fully engaged in encouraging the board to act more like a representative body for the town’s residents, they have also spoken frequently about processes, openness and accountability. Not only for processes and decisions, but also for the financial implications of those decisions. Both Helen and Veronica have backgrounds in Finance, which they will use to ensure the efficient use of our tax dollars – in capital projects, capital reserves and general finance.

Your votes for Helen Ming and Veronica Mehno have the potential to transform and revitalize the board; and, make it more accountable to you and the entire West Windsor community.

— Frank DiGiacomo, West Windsor