Norwalk BOE needs a bilingual member

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To the Editor:

Dear District D voters, next Tuesday you will have the opportunity to cast your vote for the ONLY bilingual candidate vying for a seat on the Board of Education. Norwalk’s demographics and population of children in our school district needs Haroldo Williams.

You should vote for Haroldo because he is the best and most qualified candidate. Furthermore, he brings a unique perspective like no other candidate running for a board position. He is fluent in English and also in Spanish, which is key in an almost 50 percent Hispanic student body. Born and raised in Panama to first-generation immigrants from Jamaica, he brings the type of diversity and linguistic talents we need on the board.

Haroldo has proven to be a working partner whether on the PTOC or through community and educational activities to positively impact our children. He is a man dedicated to higher quality education that understands the need to balance extracurricular activities to help keep youth out of trouble. Haroldo will be a dedicated member to help close the achievement gap with our under-performing children who desperately need to catch up.

I had the opportunity to go door to door with Haroldo two years ago during the campaign. District D is lucky to have Haroldo throw his hat back in the ring.  As we met voters together, I was more and more impressed by his knowledge on the issues and his ability to articulate them. We have an opportunity as a District, regardless of party affiliation, to elect a genuine, talented man that simply “gets it.”

Call Haroldo, visit his website, and get to meet him so you can see what I see. He has a proven track record of bringing the type of professionalism and energy we need to help our educational system and most importantly, the next generation.

I ask my Republican, Independent, Unaffiliated and Democratic friends in District D to support the right candidate. We will not be disappointed in our representation!

Warren A. Peña

Former At-Large Councilman from District D


Elsa Peterson Obuchowski October 30, 2015 at 9:00 am

While I agree it is valuable to have BOE members who are bilingual (or, for that matter, multilingual), I must point out that Mr. Williams is not the only bilingual BOE candidate in this election.
District A candidate Yvel Crevecoeur, according to his publicly available resume, holds CT professional teaching certifications in elementary bilingual education and in preK-12 TESOL [Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages]. He has taught K-8 English-as-a-second language and K-5 Haitian bilingual in Stamford public schools.
In addition to his many other credentials, Dr. Crevecoeur holds a Certificate of Advanced Study in bilingual education from Fairfield University.
He is the lead author of a highly cited article on the subject of English language learners: Crevecoeur, Y. C., Coyne, M. D., & McCoach, D. B. (2014). English-language learners and English-only learners’ response to direct vocabulary instruction. Reading and Writing Quarterly: Overcoming Learning Difficulties, 30, 51-78.
District A voters have the opportunity on Nov 3 to elect a BOE member who is highly qualified in linguistic skills as well as many other areas, notably special education.
See the profile NoN ran on Crevecoeur in August: https://www.nancyonnorwalk.com/2015/08/crevecoeur-hopes-district-a-voters-take-a-hard-look-at-his-qualifications-for-boe/

Artie Kassimis October 30, 2015 at 9:53 am

Although I am not on the ballot for BOE this year, I would like to state, for the record, that I am also bilingual. I read, write and speak fluent Greek.

Best of luck to all the candidates!

Mrs. Ruby McPherson October 30, 2015 at 10:03 am

Why should it be, this is english, America and they should have perhaps interpreters. So many jobs are going away from people only because educators didn’t stress learning another language, should you travel abroad or move to another country. If they move to America they should learn the english language, or bring an interpreter to the appointment or meeting with them. And companies should be sued if they only hire bilingual.
Norwalk has very little jobs here. Even the headstart program percentage aren’t appropriate classroom 85% Hispanic 15% others. So the waiting list is longer for other .

Adam Beausoleil October 30, 2015 at 1:41 pm

District D – Cranbury and Silvermine. Underpriveleged? While I agree that Norwalk as a whole has a big population of bilingual or only Spanish speaking students. District D prooooobably has different needs and I haven’t heard one word from Mr. Williams on ECS, school over crowding or the facilities studies, etc. While he would be serving the whole of Norwalk if elected, its still based on the needs of the district. I would believe if Mr. Williams wants to be voted in for being the “only” bilingual member running then he’s in the wrong District. I wish him well as a democrat, but the republican candidate has outlined policies much better and has a proven (albeit short) track record.

Good luck on election day to all running!

Paul Lanning October 30, 2015 at 9:19 pm

I don’t have kids in school here, so I don’t know whether or not Norwalk schools are teaching the English language to Spanish-speaking students–but if they aren’t I think that’s a mistake.

Non partisan October 31, 2015 at 10:03 am

Unfortunately education in Norwalk is desending into the politics of immigration (legal or otherwise)

While the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled on esl requirements the underlying issue remains on how to best teach students who don’t speak English at home, and to paraphrase an earlier artical by this candidate don’t come to school prepared and eager to learn.

Haroldo V. Williams November 2, 2015 at 4:43 pm

Thanks for your unsolicited endorsement and support, Warren. The responses to your letter – i.e. indicating that current Board of Ed member Artie Kassimis and the current candidate Yvel Crevecoeur are bilingual — highlight the multi-cultural diversity that we celebrate in Norwalk.

Mrs. McPherson, please be aware that the Board of Ed is a volunteer position – there is no pay; and the members do not interact with the students. When Mr. Peña and others advocate for having multilingual Board of Education members, it is usually to promote having reach into the communities where English is not the primary language.

Regarding questions from others: The Norwalk Public Schools does have an English Language Leaners program that teaches immigrant students English. Please reference the Norwalk Public School website — http://www.norwalkps.org/curriculum/k-12_programs/english_language_learner_education

Hope this addresses your concern.

If elected, I will represent a broad perspective, with a focus on improving the academic achievement of all students in Norwalk. In addition, I will represent the needs of my district and the needs of city at large. I will also promote an understanding of the initiatives and policies of the Board of Education, to the residents throughout the city of Norwalk; and I will work to make Norwalk a better city.

Haroldo V. Williams November 2, 2015 at 10:47 pm

REF. Comment from: Adam Beausoleil,

It is apparent that you have not attended the campaign forum, or read the election interviews, or the reports that the local digital and print media have presented. In addition, based on your email, it is appears that you are not aware of the demographic of the Norwalk Public Schools, or the major issues (other than school overcrowding).

I have never advocated to be elected for being the “only” bilingual candidate, as you stated; and I am not sure what you are referencing with the use of the word “Underprivileged”, since it was not used in the email from Mr. Warren Peña or in any of my campaign material.

Nevertheless, if you had researched my position on the issues, you would have realized that I have specified my priorities with much greater specifics than my opponent. I have listed my priorities as:

Ensure that the Norwalk Public Schools:
1) Develop a strategy to significantly improve the academic achievement of all students
2) Provide effective Special Education Services to the students in need
3) Have the infrastructure, resources and support, to enable students to be safe, and to have access to quality academic and extra-curricular programs
4) Launch a community initiative to engage the disconnected students, as a means to close the achievement/opportunity gap
5) Provide teachers with timely and effective training, resources, and support, to ensure the success of all curriculum-reform initiatives
6) Set high-performance expectations for all students, teachers, and staff

Regarding your statement that I have never mentioned ECS, the fact is that I have probably discussed ECS in more details, and more often than any candidate in the previous B.O.E. election, or this election. I have discussed ECS and the comparative analysis that I have done to compare Norwalk with another town of comparable size, but with a smaller student population receiving subsidized meals.

Adam Beausoleil, I am well aware of District D, and the needs of the Norwalk Public Schools. My wife and I have lived in the district, in the same home for 32 years. We raised our two children in District D, and our children attended Cranbury, West Rocks, and Norwalk High. In addition, I have volunteered at Cranbury, Ponus, West Rocks, and Norwalk High. Therefore, despite your assumption about me, I have had lots of direct experience in the Norwalk Public schools, and in District D.

I ask the voters not be distracted by detractors who do not represent the best interest of Norwalk. If elected, I will focus on improving the academic achievement of all students, and work to transform the Norwalk Public Schools from Good to Great!

Please reference my letter to the editor, regarding selecting a candidate for the Board of Ed.

– Haroldo V. Williams
Candidate, Board of Education, District D

Haroldo V. Williams November 3, 2015 at 6:07 am

REF. Comment from: Adam Beausoleil (Part 2)

While I have never stated that I want “to be voted in for being the ‘only’ bilingual member running”, I do believe that being bilingual – fluent in English and Spanish – is an added value that I offer.
Being fluent in Spanish and English would enable me to connect and communicate with the parents of a large percentage of the student body of the Norwalk Public Schools, including students in the schools that are located in District D –i.e. Silvermine, Cranbury, and West Rocks.

Parental engagement improves student achievement; and being bilingual will enable me to engage parents that may normally be disconnected. Therefore, being bilingual is an asset that would enable me to add value as a representative of District D, and as a member of the Board of Education of the Norwalk Public Schools.

– Haroldo V. Williams
Candidate, Board of Education, District D

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