My name is Ilya Meyzin and I’m honored to run for the New Providence Board of Education on Nov 3.
Our family moved to New Providence in 2015. All of us – my wife Tanya, our children, Sean and Eileen, our two rescue cats, Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn, and our rescue puppy, Wall-E – could not wish for a better place to call home. We are a big soccer family, and NP Soccer Club is what anchors our weekend these days. I love coaching both my children’s teams (Real U11, pass and move into open space!). The school district has given our AWR second- and fourth-graders the best opportunities and experiences I could ask for as a parent. I look forward to giving back and helping the Board.
Through my career in management I have learned how to tackle big problems and work with people across all walk of lives; my service in the Israeli military taught me to take pride in serving a greater good. Currently with Dun & Bradstreet (a data analytics company whose employee ranks since 1841 include Abe Lincoln and three other US Presidents!), I lead Data Science Strategy & Operations and create new solutions for some of our largest customers. Previously, I led large initiatives in Finance and Technology, negotiated multi-million vendor contracts, and worked hand-in-hand with virtually all business functions. Earlier as a management consultant, I advised multinational companies in many industries. I hold a BA in Philosophy from Yale University.
Our children will spend most of their careers in the second half of the 21st century. Their generation will face challenges that do not even have names yet. To help them succeed in this ever-changing world, we must provide them with strong intellectual, social, and emotional skills. If elected to the Board, I would prioritize these three areas:
1. Science and critical thinking
We spend 40% more per student than other developed countries. We have dedicated and hard-working teachers. And yet our kids’ international peers best them on many achievement metrics. We must take a hard look at our curriculum. First, starting with K-1 we need to shift from “STEM” – a poorly-defined and exceedingly broad concept – to discrete science units that include Biology, Chemistry and Physics. STEM was not on Einstein’s curriculum! Secondly, basic concepts of statistics and probability also should be introduced early and expanded throughout the twelve years. Our children will be able to detect intentionally manipulated and misleading information; they will learn to make important decision based on facts, science and logic.
2. Mental health, emotional and social growth
As our community struggles to recover from the inconceivable loss of young people, we know we must do more. Kids today encounter many stressors that did not exist when we were growing up: social media and cyber-bulling, ultra-competitive college admissions, readily available drugs, and so on. We must make it easy for a troubled student to approach a mental health and addiction professionals; we must work tirelessly to extinguish stigmas associated with these conditions. I will also seek direct input from students in higher grades. Many Boards of Education in NJ have student representatives; I believe it is time we have them too.
3. Fiscally responsible budget
As a New Providence resident, I too have plenty of skin in the “tax game”. I strongly believe that spending more does not necessarily lead to better outcomes. Any proposed incremental spend must be critically evaluated, especially in the context of the current economy.
We are fortunate to live in our wonderful town and our kids are lucky to be in this school district. Building on this legacy and tradition of excellence, I would be honored and privileged to work for our children – yours and mine.
Thank you for your time and consideration.