OCEAN CITY, NJ – Next month, Ocean City residents will go to the polls to vote for local and state officials. Patch asked candidates to answer profiles about their campaigns.
Editor’s note: Patch emailed all candidates to the email addresses listed for their campaign and provided to the case officer’s office. The replies received will be made public in time for the November 8 general elections. These answers are posted edited for style only. Candidates who wish to enter but have not received one (for whatever reason) may contact [email protected]
Surname: Mr Robin Schaffer
Masters of Education, Hood College;
Bachelor of Science, University of Maryland, College Park
Profession: Retired educator and federal intelligence and law enforcement officer
I have two sons, one of whom attends Ocean City High School. I am also a third generation educator (my grandmother and great grandmother were teachers). My family started vacationing in OCNJ in 1936. I bought a home here in 2009 and moved to OCNJ full time in 2019 with my kids.
Previous experience in public office:
My career in education has spanned nearly three decades: as a teacher, special education administrator, assistant principal, and principal. After retirement, I have continued to serve in a myriad of capacities, including serving as an alternate teacher for the Ocean City School District and honorary accreditation chair for the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools. In the early 2000s, I was twice elected President of the Maryland Special Education Advisory Board, which advised the State Board of Education and the State Superintendent of Schools on special education issues. I completed a Fulbright scholarship in 2011 and researched the Japanese public education system from preschool through college. In the 2010s, I shifted my professional focus and worked in three top secret positions at the State Department and DoD, first as Director of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement at the US Embassy in Astana, Kazakhstan. After returning to Washington, I worked in counterterrorism for the State Department and the Department of Defense.
Why are you running for this position?
I threw my hat into this race because I’ve seen our school board move further and further to the left in recent years. The current school board’s recent 6-5 vote to adopt explicit sex and gender ideology standards endorsed by the NJEA and Gov. Murphy provides further evidence of this liberal bias. I do not believe that our school board represents OCNJ’s values, nor have they responded to their constituents in recent years. I look forward to being part of a school board that not only listens to advocacy groups, but actually works with the community to achieve an improved school district.
What makes you different from the other candidates?
I have a diverse background in federal, state and local government leadership which influences my decision making. I believe in the importance of a rigorous classical education and have considerable experience implementing Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics (STEAM) programming. I will use common sense in my decision making and be guided by my conservative values. I want the local school board to see local decision-making on matters that are truly local in nature. We must stand up for our children and families in the face of government abuse at the hands of Trenton, the NJEA and Governor Murphy.
What do you think is the most pressing issue in the school district and how do you intend to address it?
Much learning has been lost due to pandemic-related shutdowns and restrictions over the past two years. These learning gaps need to be addressed through a comprehensive approach that includes accommodation, interventions and learning support, as well as after-school and weekend tutoring – including reimbursement for parents who conduct online and in-person learning activities for their children. The school district still has unspent federal pandemic relief funds. Closing performance gaps caused by a millennial pandemic should be the first priority.
What is your stance on the sex education curriculum that Governor Murphy presented earlier this year?
I don’t like the new standards. Let’s put it this way: would you run to the store to buy the latest gadget if the manufacturer waited almost three years before releasing it? If the new standards were such an improvement over the 2014 standards, they would have been implemented immediately after their approval at the state level in 2020. Instead, many local school districts have spent countless hours wrestling with the standards, which include controversial gender theory and other inappropriate issues. They have held many stakeholder meetings and have devoted a significant percentage of their workdays to the fundamentals of implementing sexuality and gender skills that are rightly the responsibility of parents to explain to their children.
Despite threats from the New Jersey Education Association — Gov. Murphy and the NJ Department of Education — school districts had the option to reject the standards. Ocean City narrowly passed the standards by a vote of 6 to 5, with a board member – Ryan Leonard – who was appointed the night of the decision, casting the casting vote. If elected, I will work with other board members who put academic excellence and child safety first to overturn the new standards and replace them with the previous version. I will work to ensure that any new curriculum based on the most objectionable standards is implemented in a way that ensures no child is harmed. Examples include teaching these subjects the day before spring break, sending packages home for children to work with their parents, avoiding educational materials that over-sexualize our children.
Let me be honest: I will not allow our children to become guinea pigs for social justice crusaders. I want our schools to focus on essential skills in core subjects to rebuild what has been lost during the pandemic. Our school administrators and teachers should be free to engage in reading, writing, science, mathematics and social studies. We should continue to develop these curricula and pedagogies instead of focusing on pronouns. We have a long way to go to catch up. Ocean City’s children and families deserve an education board that understands academic and operational challenges and works to meet those challenges. I promise I’ll be a voice for families and common sense when you put me on the school board.
What other issues do you think need to be addressed in your school district that have not been discussed, and how would you address them?
Ocean City becomes Small Town America during the off-season. With only 10,000 inhabitants, one might think that a sense of togetherness and a sense of community are neglected. But Ocean City is geographically spread. Other challenges emerged during the pandemic shutdowns, such as: B. A sometimes strained relationship between school officials and interest groups. I believe it’s time this school district brought families back. We should make our schools the center of community life, as is the case in many small towns in America. This can be achieved through school events and programs, encouraging volunteerism and collaboration, etc. If elected to service, I will work to build trust through transparency, accountability, decency and common sense. I will always put families first.
Is there anything else you would like to say to voters? I currently serve as President of the Ocean City Alliance for Sensible Education (ocase.org) and manage the OCNJ School Discussion Facebook page. I have a long history of advocating for people with disabilities, volunteering with the Special Olympics and recently volunteered as an adaptive surf coach for programs in South Africa. I also volunteer as a dog walker and event photographer for the Humane Society of Ocean City.