Change for Children slate seeks Jersey City Board of Education seats

Three person slate is vying for Board of Education

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Erika Baez and Doris "Toni" Ervin are running under the Change for Children slate. Not pictured: Thyson Halley. Photo by Mark Koosau.
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Erika Baez is a former PTA president from P.S. 26.
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Doris "Toni" Ervin is an adjunct professor at Hudson County Community College.
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Thyson T. Halley is an advocate for those who are deaf and students with special needs.
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  1 / 4 
Erika Baez and Doris "Toni" Ervin are running under the Change for Children slate. Not pictured: Thyson Halley. Photo by Mark Koosau.
  2 / 4 
Erika Baez is a former PTA president from P.S. 26.
  3 / 4 
Doris "Toni" Ervin is an adjunct professor at Hudson County Community College.
  4 / 4 
Thyson T. Halley is an advocate for those who are deaf and students with special needs.

Running as the second major team in this year’s Jersey City Board of Education elections is the Change for Children slate, a prominent slate that has frequently run for the board.

The slate has had previous financing backing in 2019 from a super PAC linked to the LeFrak Organization, a prominent real estate developer.

The candidates spoke to the Hudson Reporter on their ideas for the Board of Education, as three vacated seats on the board are up for election.

Erika Baez

A resident of Jersey City since 1998, Erika Baez is a former PTA President of P.S. 26 who’s running on the Change for Children slate.

Baez got involved with the public school system when her firstborn child entered the school district and later joined the PTA. She was also on the Jersey City Board of Education’s Re-opening Committee last year and this year, and the technology committee. She has two children in the school district.

Erika Baez is a former PTA president from P.S. 26.

“I’m running because I feel it’s a natural extension to the work that I’ve already been doing,” said Baez. “As a board member, I would concentrate on infrastructure, because we’re getting a lot of money through the federal government for pandemic funds. Right now, it’s time to address the historical infrastructure issues that we have, especially surrounding water, air quality, and ventilation.”

Alongside infrastructure, Baez’s top priorities would be to focus on a sustainable budget, look at children’s needs including mental, academic, and physical, and ensure that student assistance programs are being used “to their fullest potential.”

Doris “Toni” Ervin

Doris “Toni” Ervin is an adjunct professor at Hudson County Community College and a former JCPS teacher. A lifelong resident of Jersey City, she has 30 years of experience in education, with three of them in the school district. She teaches child development at HCCC, and has also consulted with the Urban League of Hudson County.

Doris “Toni” Ervin is an adjunct professor at Hudson County Community College.

“I see that especially after this pandemic, we need to build back better,” said Ervin. “One would be for our children and teachers to have a safer and healthier environment and ensure that; providing adequate social emotional support; creating classrooms for learning that are successful to help bridge the learning loss, and very importantly, finding out or assessing and developing programs to get more parent involvement district wide.”

Ervin said she would focus on accountability, saying that there are no benchmarks or consequences within the budget, including how money is spent, and would make it a “making it a sustainable and effective budget.”

Thyson T. Halley

Thyson T. Halley is a Jersey City native who is an advocate for those who are deaf and students with special needs.

According to his biography on Change for Children’s website, he became an advocate after being diagnosed with spinal meningitis at a young age, and founded His Hands Ministry, a deaf and hard of hearing sign language ministry. He also teaches American Sign Language throughout New Jersey, and served on the Jersey City Board of Ethical Standards.

Thyson T. Halley is an advocate for those who are deaf and students with special needs.

“Thyson’s life story and advocacy for special needs students will be an important voice on the Jersey City Board of Education as we work bringing education back better,” reads the website.

Halley could not be reached for an interview by the time of publication.

Issues and policies

  • Funding: Baez said she would look into getting more grant writers and put more pressure on the state government to get more funding. Ervin supported creating a centralized purchasing system for the district, putting benchmarks in the school budget, and getting donations from small businesses.
  • Infrastructure: Baez said she would ensure that federal pandemic funds are used for long term infrastructure plans. Ervin’s plan would be to evaluate the schools and find where problems are.
  • Bringing normalcy after COVID-19: Baez said she would follow the CDC guidelines, and invest in ways to bring children outside for recess or engage with each other outside “where academics isn’t the focus.” Ervin said she would ensure a safe and healthy learning environment and also follow the CDC guidelines.
  • Learning gap: Baez said she would work to share the results of student assessments and make sure they have the resources to help those that are struggling. Ervin said she would provide social emotional support by having more people available for children.
  • Mental health: Baez supported having clinicians in the school district. Ervin reiterated getting more people to help such as lunchroom aides, security guards and librarians.
  • Racial equity: Erika said she would make efforts looking at various neighborhoods, and either via parent driven or a school community, create resources for parents. Ervin said she would make sure children have proper education, citing how she saw children in classrooms being taught multicultural and diverse curriculum.

For updates on this and other stories, check www.hudsonreporter.com and follow us on Twitter @hudson_reporter. Mark Koosau can be reached at mkoosau@hudsonreporter.com or his Twitter @snivyTsutarja.