NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ—Martin Arocho has been a New Brunswick resident for over 30 years and currently resides in the Dewey section/neighborhood on Dewey St.
Arocho has 5 children that are currently in, or have gone through, the New Brunswick school system.
His time in New Brunswick has seen many years of service as PTO president of Roosevelt and also the little league coach of several baseball and soccer teams – activities of which his children participated in also.
At the Roosevelt School, Arocho worked with the guidance deparatment to increase funding for college applicants. He reinstated music programs and several intramural sports.
Arocho's time in New Brunswick was also spent volunteering at After School Assistance and Drop Out Officer Program.
"I believe in public school," the opening statement came from Arocho at the first ever board of election forum open to the public, held in New Brunswick.
Sometimes the specific details were not exactly provided.
When candidates were asked whether or not they would challenge standardized testing and the practice of Teaching to the test, Arocho responded, "We need some kind of testing."
When asked about his position on charter schools, Arocho said that he "believe[s] in public schools, but … also believes in choices."
Most of Arocho's answers/responses were similarly ambigious.
Arocho did, however, specifically call for more after-school activities in terms of enacting policies to prevent gang violence.
Credence given that this is the first public town-hall style forum and he was on crutches suffering from a leg injury.
When asked about the dropout rate in New Brunswick schools, Arocho stated he "know[s] dropout rate keeps going up" and "whatever we need to do we have to do it in order to keep the dropout rate lower."
Addressing the high dropout rate in the New Brunswick school systemt is one of Arocho's top priorities as indicated by this blog Q&A from Unity Square
Up on the stage, when asked about how to improve the current cirriculum, Arocho said he would "Take a look at the program and see where it's not working."
"Being on the board will help me figure out what it is we're not doing," he added.
The state originally reported in 2012 that New Brunswick's graduation rate was 58.8 percent, however officials later said "that the actual rate, calculated through a previously used formula, is more than 70 percent."
In an article written last year on the website NewBrunswickPatch, District superintendent Richard Kaplan "said that discrepancies are present in the system, as it does not account for students who leave the state, nor does it account for students who do not graduate on time, but are still in the district. Those students are left out of the equation, skewering the numbers, he said."
Up on the stage, when Arocho was asked about what he thought was the single most import factor to improving the graduation rate, he said "motivation." Specifically, "we need to find ways to motivate our students … our children to stay in school, to do well, to show them that they can become successful in life and have a good futue with a good career."
Overall all candidates had an amiable stage presence but spoke forcefully, honestly and passionatly when it came time for specific issues.
Even though he may have struggled with some of his answers, Martin Arocho has a clear, vested interest in the improvement of the New Brunswick school system.
Polls are open today from 7 a.m. until 9 p.m. Please visit NewBrunswickToday.com for up-to-date election results this evening.