Malden School Committee candidates engage with Asian community

By the Sampan editorial team

A Malden School Committee candidate forum took place Sept. 28 at the Malden Senior Center. Former Fitchburg Mayor Lisa Wong, deputy director of the Asian American Civic Association (left), hosted the forum, while Malden Mayor Gary Christenson welcomed residents. (Image courtesy of Diana Jeong.)

More than 150 residents attended a school committee candidate forum at the Malden Senior Center on Sept. 28. The event was sponsored by the Greater Malden Asian American Community Coalition (GMAACC), along with Mass Senior Action Council, Chinese Cultural Connection, Chinese Progressive Association and Massachusetts Asian and Pacific Islanders Civic Action Network (APIs CAN!) . These organizations worked together on civic engagement and language access issues.

The Malden School Committee consists of the mayor and eight members elected from each of the City’s eight wards. For this year’s municipal elections, three of those seats are being contested. All school committee candidates were invited to attend, eight of whom were able to participate. Lisa Wong, former mayor of the City of Fitchburg and current deputy director of the Asian American Civic Association, served as moderator.

The forum began with greetings from Malden Mayor Gary Christenson, followed by introductions and acknowledgements by two students from Malden High School.

Prior to the candidates speaking, Mass Senior Action Council made a brief presentation regarding bilingual ballots. This year’s election will mark the first time the City of Malden will have ballots in both English and Chinese. This is due to the Voting Rights Act of 1975, which states when more than 5 percent of voting age residents speak a minority language, all election materials must also be avaliable in that language.

The candidates present were given time to talk about themselves and issues that were of most concern. They were then given the opportunity to answer a series of questions. Some of these questions were from a survey conducted by GMAACC and some were from the audience that was present. These questions covered a wide range of topics including:

  • The role schools should play in teaching about drug and alcohol abuse, wellness and bullying
  • Teaching subjects in a culturally sensitive manner
  • Support for an ombudsman to whom students can report incidents of discrimination
  • Bilingual education
  • Family engagement
  • Educational needs for gifted students
  • Transportation issues
  • Hiring of minority staff

Forum organizers offered translation services to audience members who needed them. MATV, the local access cable station, filmed the proceedings for future cablecast. GMAACC’s goal was to provide as much comprehensive material to as wide an audience so that voters could confidently and informatively cast their ballots in the Nov. 7 election.

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