Patricia Zohn
The ballfields, the playgrounds, dance class.  The library, the church/synagogue, the club.  The grocery aisles, the post office, the hardware store.  The Board of Education, the town hall, the polls.  And, increasingly, email, twitter, facebook, texts . . .
 These are some of the spaces where I routinely run into, oh, let me see – parents, seniors, local elected officials, people I know well, people I know only a little, people I only just recognize, teachers, businessmen, volunteers, athletes, scholars, people I agree with, people I disagree with, people I just wish had an opinion.  These are my neighbors – all of them.  These are the people of my community.  Communities don’t just happen.  Communities are formed when you raise a barn, hold a town meeting, build a school, and start a newspaper. And when you lose these binding institutions, you lose your sense of community. So – WELCOME PATCH!  Welcome to Warren.  Welcome to my town where the heroes we want to celebrate are local, and the problems we face are local, and the resources, strength and support we all need are local.  We are not a community if we don’t have local news. Thank you for giving me an opportunity to write about one of the other local institutions that binds us together – our public schools.  I have spent the last six years regularly attending meetings of the Warren Township Board of Education.  I started attending when my oldest child was in kindergarten and it will be another 8 years before the youngest of my three children graduates from eighth grade.  I fully intend to start attending the Watchung Hills High School Board meetings as soon as my first child starts middle school.   No.  I am not crazy (much), and I do have other interests.  However, I have been moved by the lack of dialogue regarding our public schools to start a blog, warreneducation.com, and to seek ways to engage our community in a public discussion about education, community action, and local government.  Just as PATCH is a whole new way of thinking about the delivery of local news, so too our schools need to look at whole new ways to educate.  Education reform has never been a hotter topic at the state and federal level and how that effects local school budgets, curriculum, staffing, etc. is going to be a conversation in which Warren needs to take part. Join me here at PATCH for a column about Warren Public Schools—this is a good place to agree, or disagree, or express no opinion.  The dialogue is what is important.       
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