Princeton Board of Education Profile: Michele Tuck-Ponder

PRINCETON, NJ — Incumbent Princeton Board of Education Vice-President Michele Tuck-Ponder is running for another term this coming election.

A resident of Princeton, Tuck-Ponder has held various offices in over the past 30 years, including Mayor. Tuck-Ponder says she’s a strong advocate for reasonable spending and cost saving measures. She wants to ensure all students get equal and excellent education without putting much burden on the taxpayer.

Read below to learn more about Tuck-Ponder and her platform for the upcoming elections in Princeton.

Name – Michele Tuck-Ponder

Age (as of Election Day) – 62

Position Sought – Member, Board of Education

Does anyone in your family work in politics or government? – No

Education –

B.S. Journalism, Northwestern University

J.D. University of Pennsylvania Law School

Occupation –

Executive Director, Destination Imagination (2017- present)

Previous or Current Elected or Appointed Office –

Princeton Township Committeewoman

Mayor, Princeton Township

Commissioner, Princeton Housing Authority

Campaign website –

Why are you seeking elective office?

There are few more important duties of a community than ensuring that all children are provided with the best education possible. I am running for re-election to the Princeton Board of Education because of my commitment to equity in Princeton Public Schools. Good intentions and mission statements have proven to be ineffective in moving PPS to correct the inequities in our district. For the past three years, I have used my voice and my vote on the Board of Education to highlight and address issues of inequity in our schools.

The single most pressing issue facing our community is _______, and this is what I intend to do about it.

Affordability. It is almost impossible for low income people to find affordable housing, taxpayers are feeling pressured, and schools and municipalities are struggling to meet the needs of our constituents. I will continue to advocate for responsible spending and cost saving measures. I will also continue to ask State Legislators to address tax policy that does not address the funding needs of our schools or our towns.

What are the critical differences between you and the other candidates seeking this post?

In one word, “Experience”. As a 30-year resident of Princeton, I have served in a variety of roles, serving the community as an elected (Mayor and Township Committee) and appointed official (Commissioner, Princeton Housing Authority) and as a volunteer (Girl Scout Leader; Member, Princeton United Methodist Church). While the other candidates have stated a commitment to equity, fiscal responsibility and excellence, I have a record of service that demonstrates that commitment. As Board Vice Chair, Chair of the Equity Committee and the Labor Negotiations committee, and a member of the Policy and Personnel Committees, I have gained intimate knowledge of the strengths and challenges facing our schools. I am the parent of two children who have attended Princeton Public Schools and excelled. I want the same for all children. And most important, I know how to get the job done.

Describe the other issues that define your campaign platform

  • Equity and excellence: I will continue to address systemic and institutional racism in the district, particularly in the areas of discipline, special ed classifications, hiring and academic achievement. PPS must have a coordinated response to inequity in our schools with a focus on measuring outcomes and accountability in order to provide an excellent education for all.

  • Facilities: Our schools are crowded and predicted to become more congested in the near future. As a former elected official, I have experience in feasibility studies, design and financing public buildings. I am committed to working to ensure that we have adequate and appropriate facilities to support our educational mission, without unduly burdening taxpayers.

  • Budget and Safety: I am committed to ensuring a safe and effective teaching environment for our children, teachers and staff. Covid-19 presents significant challenges for this environment with resulting budget impacts for the foreseeable future. We need to make the necessary investments to ensure that all of our children have the resources needed for remote learning, that our teachers have the training they need to provide excellent education whether in the classroom or via technology, and that when students and faculty and staff are present, they are safe. I am particularly concerned that our budgetary decisions do not disproportionately impact our most vulnerable students.

  • Equipping our students for the emerging future of Work: As the CEO of a global education company, I know how important it is to ensure that our students learn 21st Century skills to collaborate, think critically, be creative and communicate. As the world changes before our eyes, it is our job not only to provide our kids with the highest level of subject matter learning, but also with the tools to be able to implement those skills effectively, not only in school or the workplace, but in life.

What accomplishments in your past would you cite as evidence you can handle this job?

As mayor, I oversaw the funding and approvals for a new municipal building. I also addressed traffic problems on State Road 206 and negotiated a partnership for a new public library. As chair of the Board of Education Equity Committee, I have drafted a new Equity Impact Analysis policy to guide decision-making at all levels in our schools.

The best advice ever shared with me was:

“Don’t listen to respond; listen to understand.”

In anticipation of the upcoming election, Patch asked candidates to answer questions about their campaigns. We will be publishing candidate profiles as election day draws near.

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This article originally appeared on the Princeton Patch

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