I was reading last night about the upcoming election. The Smithfield Herald has released its endorsements for this year's election. Here is what they wrote about the race for School Board:
For Board of Education: This debate took the longest and not because the race has six candidates for three seats. Incumbent Larry Strickland and newcomer Butler Hall enjoyed the unanimous support of the Herald’s editorial board. Mr. Strickland because he’s willing to work with County Commissioners to put finite county resources into classrooms. And Mr. Hall because we believe his would be a moderate, consensus-building voice on a board that has become increasingly partisan. But how to choose among the other four candidates? Carol Brannock would bring a teacher’s voice to a school board that has none. Sylvia Herring would offer pragmatism and a southern Johnston County perspective. Incumbent Dorothy Johnson has a passion for helping schoolchildren, and she is the board’s lone minority and therefore a role model. But our nod goes to Brian Hale because he is the parent of young children, and young children are what the school board is all about.
My thoughts about what was written are this. I couldn't care less if Dorothy Johnson is a minority. She is only a role model if she has the character to be so. I don't care if Carol Brannock was a teacher or not. I only care if she has the right perspective to be able to guide the education policies of the county. I don't care what part of the county Sylvia Herring is from. We should be electing school board members by district, anyway.
I thought that the last endorsement was written by a third grader or a mentally retarded adult, so I read it again. Yup, it said what I thought it said. I decided to email the endorsed candidate. He doesn't write the endorsements. I did want to share with him some perspective and let him know why I would vote for him, or not. Here is what I wrote:
I was reading the online version of the Herald last night and saw their endorsements for the upcoming election. I see that "our nod goes to Brian Hale because he is the parent of young children, and young children are what the school board is all about." I wanted to let you know that I will not vote for you because you have young children. I will most likely vote for you because actually looked to see who the candidates were and read their candidate profiles. You seem conservative in your approach as well as practical.
You mentioned one thing in your N&O profile (something I am familiar with, having run for office myself) that is what I was looking for. "...allow us to continue to grow without having a higher tax burden on the Johnston County families." That is something that I always look for. The views about the burden on the people who pay the bills are important, since that tells me whether a candidate will think creatively or not, and give consideration to efficiency with the millions of dollars we already send to the county schools.
The Herald said one thing that I find absurd in the earlier quote. "young children are what the school board is all about." No, young children are NOT what the school board is all about. EDUCATION is what the school board is all about. They are not there to be elected babysitter supervisors or Big Brother. They are there to direct the way in which the county handles its education system. If people would get that concept down rather than all things being "for the children" as an emotional pull for power, then perhaps we could gain back ground in the quality of our education system that we have lost over the years.
If parochial and charter schools can educate children for far less money that we are spending per student and give a higher standard of education at the same time, perhaps it is time to reevaluate our system. Just within the past week, I was listening to charter school administrators who were discussing how their several schools receive the same amount of public money per student as other public schools. However, they do NOT receive any money for facilities. Within the amount of money they receive, they must pay for building construction or rental. They are doing so with great success, even building $12 million dollar facilities. That tells me that our existing public system is extremely inefficient and needs to change. The figure thrown around was that only about 50% of tax dollars for education make it to the classroom. The other half is eaten up in administration. If this is true, I want someone who is elected to work to change that. When our Superintendent of Schools makes more money than the Governor of North Carolina, something needs to change.
If you are in that paradigm, then you will certainly have my vote, not because you have young children.