Tuesday, October 28, 2008

State School Board Election Review

Readers of this blog will remember that it was with great fervor that I attempted to create some level of awareness of the importance of the School Board elections. With just one week to go until election day, I'd like to bring it to your attention one more time. I'll begin by reminding you about what's already been said.

On May 18th I talked about the process for selecting State School Board members. The process began early in May at the Governor's office with what was nearly a closed-door meeting, but thanks to concerned citizens who showed up to attend, the meeting was opened as it should have been to begin with. I talked about the process and how it's changed over time. I'm now convinced it needs to be changed again.

With all of the to do about the meetings of the State School Board Nominating Committee being kept open to the public, I got to wondering why anyone would event want to serve on the State Board. On May 26th I outlined the important responsibilities that Board Members have and I thought about the ramifications of someone opposed to any public school system or disenfranchised with ours being able to undermine it from within by getting elected. If you're wondering why your vote matters as election day approaches, read this post.

After suggesting that a State School Board candidate might have ill-intent, a reader directed me toward some interesting information on the state elections office website showing that infiltration had already occurred! The old adage "follow the money" was hitting me square in the jaw and I couldn't ignore it. On May 28th I outlined the large donations made by voucher pushers Parents for Choice in Education. It was quite apparent that one board member had already been bought in the 2006 race. If it could happen once could it happen again?

I thought I'd do well to further explore the question, "Do school board candidates have hidden agendas?" There seemed to be quite a few candidates that had filed and were being interviewed that had ties to vouchers. If you're curious about which ones, read or re-read this post. On May 31st I talked about all of the candidates who have obvious ties to Parents for Choice in Education or had voiced a public position in favor of vouchers.

It didn't take long to discover that the School Board election process failed us, but it was no surprise to many of us. On June 2nd, the nominating committee votes were in and the results showed that they had eliminated two incumbents and ranked another in third place. How is it that we have a process where ELECTED officials don't even have the opportunity to be re-elected? If the people voted them into office shouldn't it be the people who essentially vote them out? The results also showed how the business members of the committee voted together to get their way. The vote was stacked and in one instance (District 7) two business members didn't even bother to cast their last vote, despite agreed upon rules.

On June 6th, just four short days later, the Governor finished the job by summarily picking the top two candidates as put forth by the Nominating Committee. Why our Governor was even involved in the process at that point was a mystery to me. It was supposed to be his job to make sure that the two most qualified and capable candidates were put on the ballot. That didn't happen as yet another incumbent (Theresa Theuer) was axed and a capable and well qualified candidate (A. LeGrand Richards) was cut.

Since then I've turned my focus elsewhere, but with the election right upon us it's important to bring this up again. We'll have to live with the decisions we make and in some cases it will be a matter of choosing the lesser of the two, if you know what I mean. We need to make sure that this process is changed in the future. The decision should be put back in your hands! The elections need to remain non-partisan. We can't leave these important decisions up to committees and governors.

Stay tuned for part two tomorrow. I'll make sure you get the information you need on the remaining two State School Board candidates in each district so that you can make informed decisions.


Tom said...

If anyone can provide information on positions of District 13 State Board of Education candidates, please let me know. The only thing I can find is Bateman's UPS survey.

Jenny said...

School board Cartoon :).