She may be tiny, but she is a force to be reckoned with.
Aarati Martino, a Google software engineer for nearly two decades and the mother of two is running for the Central Bucks School Board District Six.
Martino, the wife of Paul Martino, the venture capitalist who recently opened a posh sports bar in Center City Philadelphia, said the couple moved to Doylestown from Silicon Valley so their children could live normal lives.
“California is a very liberal place,” said Martino. “When we had our kids, we said, we can’t raise them here. It was too expensive. There’s not the support. There’s not the values.”
In Silicon Valley, “There’s a huge divide. You either send your kids to a very expensive, elite private school with all the other well-compensated people’s kids, or you could send them into public school where your kids are going to school with gangsters.”
“There’s no middle ground,” she said. “It’s actually really sad. We wanted our kids to go to school with people from all walks of life because that’s life. That’s the American way.
“Paul and I purposefully moved here from Silicon Valley so our kids could grow up somewhere normal, with good schools and great hoagies. After COVID, I saw the learning loss, especially in mathematics, and felt compelled to help fix it. My parents are immigrants, and we have benefited so much from this country, so I must pay it forward.”
Martino added, “I’m pretty sure I can use my engineering and management skills to elevate the kids and get them back on track. From there, I want to enhance their education so they will be ready for the fast-paced technological world we live in. With disruptive technologies like ChatGPT and social media, we have to prepare kids with the right skills so they can succeed, regardless of what the future holds.
“My background is in engineering,” Martino continued. “So, I appreciate any occupation that also creates and makes things better, including the wealth of artisans, hairdressers, writers, chefs, woodworkers…all living around us. We should build mentorships for our kids with these amazing experts at an early age while their minds are so fresh,” she added.
But some in Central Bucks have been protesting since a Republican majority was elected to the school board in 2021. Media coverage is routinely negative. Members of the education establishment are fighting the board on several issues, such as removing pornographic books from school libraries and banning flags that promote politics from classrooms.
“We saw in politics these things are happening in southern California, and now it’s coming to our doorstep,” said Martino.
Martino is already under attack, with people saying her husband is buying her a seat on the school board.
But Martino, who holds degrees from M.I.T. and a Ph.D. from Stanford, said she makes her own money.
“She said, ‘I feel it’s my responsibility to run,’ and I was like, ‘Yes. Let’s go. Let’s do it.’”
Martino is detail-oriented and believes she would be a great school board member.
While some think the minutiae that school boards deal with is dull, she explained, “I’ve actually gotten good at that kind of stuff. So when you’re talking about the boring stuff at school board meetings, it’s like, no, that’s actually the (important) stuff. If you know those tiny little details, if you understand, then you can put that stuff together and actually build something really good,” said Martino. “You just need to know how to do it and pay attention to it…And once you know how something works, this is how this works and how this money goes here, well, you know.”
“Bucks County is such fertile ground, and the district is already affording so many great opportunities for our kids, and I believe we can do even more. I would love to unite the community to do what we all agree upon, enriching our children so they can flourish as adults.”