Letter to the Editor: Jim Winton

Jim Winton provides his thoughts on diversity.

After reading the onslaught of inaccurate depictions over the last several weeks of what Haddonfield is, who Haddonfield residents are, and what Haddonfield “owes” to its neighbors, I find it impossible to sit idly by while the people of Haddonfield are unfairly and erroneously labeled.

Haddonfield is not some citadel of racism and exclusivity. There are no laws or ordinances forbidding anyone from purchasing a home in Haddonfield. Conversely, there is an array of different people living in Haddonfield from different races and economic situations. And, we all live in harmony together, without any signs of suspicion, distrust, or hatred.

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This false notion that all Haddonfield residents are “rich” could not be further from reality. Haddonfield is full of regular people who work hard to provide a good life for their families. Most of us work regular jobs and live in modest homes which, for the vast majority of us, are the greatest financial investments we will ever make. After work, we can be found coaching youth sports, leading scout troops, etc.

Many have opined that Haddonfield owes its neighbors access to our schools because it’s somehow unfair that only Haddonfield residents have access. Haddonfield schools are not great because of the facilities (as evidenced by the enormous maintenance project on our school buildings which Haddonfield residents are financing), or because we spend the most money per-student (we have among the lowest per-student expenditures in the state), or because of the tremendous state aid our district receives (again, among the lowest in the state). And, as great as our teachers are (I can’t thank you enough for the tremendous jobs you all do), this is not the sole reason for our great schools.

The reason that Haddonfield schools are so wonderful is because of the people of Haddonfield. We pay extraordinary property taxes, and we recognize the value in education. We make sure that our children are in school, that they take care of homework, and that we communicate and work with teachers in a partnership to ensure our children’s best chance at success. This is not some magical silver bullet that is only available to a select few. It is available to anyone who values education and is willing to put in the time, effort, and sacrifice to make sure that their children are educated, responsible citizens. Moreover, access is already available to non-Haddonfield residents who wish to take advantage of our excellent schools, through a tuition program.

Haddonfield is full of people of varied races and economic circumstances. The tie that binds us all together is our shared values of hard work, family, community and willingness to sacrifice for our children’s benefit. All the misguided indignation being directed at Haddonfield is based on misconceptions and jealousy. Haddonfield is a great town because we, the people, are active in our families, community, churches and schools. We communicate and work with our great teachers, and we’re vigilant about making sure that our children do what is necessary to succeed. And like all the people throwing stones at us, we reap what we sow.

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