My name is Natalia Ioffe, and I am greeting you from the rooftop of my home, which stands on Center St., near the very trestle on Grand St. & Barbara Pl. that has been said to divide the “two cities” that we have seemingly become.
In a way it is very fitting that our Jersey City is constantly juxtaposed to one of Charles Dickens’ most well known novels. He was a great social critic of his time and devoted some of his best writings to highlighting the effects of poverty and violence in lives of people, particularly children.
We have so many children today that struggle with poverty and violence. So many that struggle with stress and anxiety beyond their years, trying their best to survive and to succeed in school. Every single one of them deserves a chance at a bright future.
We have the responsibility to help them get there.
One of the ways we can ensure this is to create an atmosphere and culture in every school where children will be happy and healthy, safe and strong. We must care for our schools as if they are extensions of our families, because for our students school should be a safe haven and a home away from home. In every decision we make regarding our schools, the first question we must ask ourselves – how will it affect the children, is it conducive to the uncovering of their potential, their health, their growth, their future?
A 100 years ago, one of Jersey City’s pioneers in Early Childhood education, Cornelia F. Bradford believed that children of the poor can have high aspirations for the future. She spent her entire life making sure that could be true for the children of poor immigrants in this city.
And I know that there are people among us today who believe the same thing, the helpers and visionaries who work to bring the best resources and opportunities to all our students, to make sure they have the best educational experience possible.
If we look for these helpers, we will transcend this dividing trestle, and we will discover a beautiful city and a brilliant people rising [ ], in the struggle to be truly free, in triumphs and defeats, [ ], and together we can build a better future for our children.
To keep paraphrasing Charles Dickens from “A Tale of Two Cities”:
It is the best of times, it is the worst of times, it is the age of wisdom, it is the age of foolishness, it is the epoch of belief, it is the epoch of incredulity, it is the season of Light, it is the season of Darkness,[ ] we have everything before us, we have nothing before us…
So Let it be a far, far better thing that we do, than we have ever done in taking a stand for our city’s children and choosing what is ultimately best FOR THEM.
Cast your votes wisely, Jersey City, and God bless us, everyone!