Partisan politics take hold of local NJ school board races

The mood in the Tenafly High School library was tense as six candidates for the Board of Education discussed the issues.

They sat next to each other as they answered questions during last week’s forum, but the responses showed just how bitterly divided they are.

From how sex education and racism are taught in school to campaign funding, it was evident Tenafly is one of the many powder-keg school board races playing out across the state and the country.

Two state education mandates have stirred controversy, reflecting a national trend: a 2021 law requiring public schools to promote themes of diversity, inclusion and equity and to examine the impact of unconscious bias and economic disparities in society, and the 2020 health and physical education standards.

School Board Candidate Forum in Tenafly on Wed., Oct 26, 2022.

In Tenafly, running together on the “parental rights” platform they say aims to give parents the power to determine what their children are taught in school, are challengers Matt Ackerman, Marissa Buonomo and Michael Croce.

Incumbents seeking reelection are Jocelyn Schwarz, Paula Newman and Igor Frid. The three are running individually but “fully support” one another, said Schwarz, the current board president. They also support state curriculum mandates, including diversity laws and changes to sex education.

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