Cue @TNJ_editor on moving school board elections to partisan fall contests in 3, 2, 1…. #netDE #badidea


3 thoughts on “Cue @TNJ_editor on moving school board elections to partisan fall contests in 3, 2, 1…. #netDE #badidea

  1. That would be a perfect way to distract from the real story which is, that of those most dedicated to vote on school issues, all candidates support corporate reform, lost out to those whose prime aim, is to teach kids something they can use later in life…..

    Common Core, RTTT, Rodel all just got a vote of non-confidence. So the News Journal story will probably be: move the elections….

    But we had this discussion last year. Back then it was decided that you wouldn’t have plumbers decided what the American Medical Association should or shouldn’t do. Likewise, education needs to be left up to those who have a vested interest in the policies being put forth. It’s a small pool; but it is an educated small pool that can’t be bought with little trinkets.

  2. MAH

    It’s been a low voter turnout for decades. What about the 7 districts, including Brandywine, that did not even have an election because there were not 2 people that wanted to fight for a seat to serve in these unpaid positions. I have never heard much chatter about the countless legislators and council members who go unopposed, in some cases for decades, in their well paid position$. I don’t see the difference.

  3. Joanne Christian

    And once again…..I’m just posting the very same real reason AGAIN to remain a stand-alone date.

    Guest Opinion: Joanne Christian on HB117
    Posted on June 17, 2009 by RSmitty
    smitty-note: bumped this post up to give it a chance in the sun, rapid posting caused it to get pushed down on the page rather quickly
    PSSST….Dover…you passed an Onion not an Apple

    by Joanne Christian

    Let me applaud the 17 Representatives who “got it” in their decision to vote “NO” to HB 117.

    HB 117 has been presented simply as a “cost savings measure” to move school board elections to general election days. Sounds great, sounds easy, sounds right, and makes sense. Aaah but is it really that simple? If entire sections of Delaware code are dedicated to education practice and law from the Secretary of Education, to State School Board, through Superintendents, Administrators, teachers, and school boards, shouldn’t that give one a clue of the major over-arching impact this presents, using this naive fix of a simple date-change? Move a wedding date, you get Bridezilla, move an election date, you get Boardzilla. Here are those over-arching reasons you cannot ignore:

    Board members are unaligned volunteers legislated to be elected by a local community to oversee local policy and local monies on behalf of their schools – and schools alone. There is no power of one. The board is a unit. It is a hobby or a passion. It is not a job. Their relative knowledge in education, fiscal policy, and local priorites narrows them to the select position the community entrusts, akin to a village elder or community organizer. They have nothing to trade, nothing to deal, nothing to barter. It is a stand alone group, with a stand alone (election) date. No matter what is proposed in regards to the shared (election) date w/ unaligned entry, the “appearance of evil” is there, all around. Like Halloween in October – you may not celebrate it – but pumpkins and ghosts find their way in your path.

    The added overcrowding of issues on the proposed election day dwarfs the separate importance reserved for local education in the past. If the papers, PTAs, radios,and blogs can’t find the time to report and interview down-ballot contests during the general, any chance of getting coverage for an off-ballot race?

    The prohibitive cost to run a campaign for a VOLUNTEER offends those who are willing to serve and further marginalizes those who can ill-afford to run. Plainly, fixed income, lower income, and seniors would never have a fighting chance for a seat at the table they deservedly can sit at now, if this bill becomes law.

    That’s just the election day piece…oh there’s more:

    Folks talk about the fiscal year. I can work around a fiscal year. What board members can’t work around is the programatic year. Summers are for training and district workshops preparations to incoming enrollment – sure, the budget is a big one, but what’s a budget these days? Fall, we are out and welcoming new families, new programs, and generally the new school year. Fall culminates with administrative contract reviews for renewal or termination. As an administrator, do you want that review-timeline around an election, good or bad? As an outgoing board member, or one seeking re-election, do you want that “appearance of good or evil” timed to the election date? Is it fair to an employee, board member, or community not to keep these dates arm’s length?

    The date of filing changes to July 1 – a full 4 months before an election – from the current 9-10 weeks (and bad weather months at that) of notice given now. Again, contrasting a very busy programmatic time of the year, to a rhythmic mid-winter, and even a Spring-Break-reasonable-pace of a school year.

    Under the legislation, the seating of the new board, being January, will be just in time to start negotiations with the various union factions. There will be years boards will overturn a quorum, too. Again, current procedures elects one person to one seat. There may be an occasional cause to fill 2 seats. You turn over a quorum, and you will be stuck with a quorum. You will never unseat a quorum, as long as they wish to remain in office. Because the perfect storm in school board elections is about to happen: move the date, increase the expense to a candidate, align that candidate to funding, or align that candidate to other candidates for the group rate and exponential message, then prepare to call Dover because it’s not working, and the same ol’ people keep winning and controlling. We shouldn’t do it this way for education.

    Yet there is more…

    Referenda….plenty of them. Legislators run. Board members have to face them head on, and we do. We even run board elections on the same day. We don’t have to, but it’s fiscally prudent. Contrast that with legislators who in no way want a referendum to run, much needed at that, anywhere near their primary or general election race. We can respect that: to distance local dollars from their feared perception of raising taxes.

    There are the phone calls, too. It must be a great relief now to hand off the constituents with an education complaint to a local school board member for resolution. While that’s OK, with what’s coming, you will likely hold your calls, because chances are, the school board member, whom you brought in November, doesn’t REALLY care about education, but is just placeholding for that right job in politics they aspire, and are on the stepping stone you placed for them. Would you trust your political career to that person?

    School boards have offered solutions, to deaf ears. We have agreed to less polling places (perhaps just high schools, and district offices). We even came off a Saturday election in some districts, to all have one day. The number of hours the polls are open in school board elections is already reduced by upwards of 3-5 hours at times, depending on the BOE. Districts have paid for their own elections. Districts have offerred to open ballots, similar to a bid packet removing the BOE. In fact, BOE only became involved over an isolated incident about 12 years ago and accelerated costs ridiculously, but isolated incidents seem to be the MO of the day. Instead of sanctioning offending parties, or allowing a district the pain to finally demand and provide self correction, Dover wants to regulate a perfect incubator for school boards, because they have had such phenomenal success with themselves (sarcasm).

    You think you’re saving money? Consequences have a cost, too, and some are incalculable, which brings me to my closing point, about this “simple” change to save money:

    The fiscal note was asked for and dismissed, claiming to have already been worked into the current budget. WOW, all that, and not a single discussion with your State School Board Assn., Chief School Officers, or opinion from DOE (who has remained no comment). You could have saved money in THIS budget not trialing software for implementation, at the many levels it will need to be cross hatched (and not yet worked out). HB 117 was never about saving money. It is about keeping control. Be forewarned, the bite of this apple will soon enough reveal the layers of an onion. Seventeen members of the House “got it”, when probably only 3 initially understood all the underpinnings of this legislation, so that’s some real progress in debunking this simple solution as presented. Here’s every hope the Senate is more judicious of these quick fixes.

    Smitty’s addendum: From my perspective in the Appoquinimink School District, I am very pleased with my Representative, Rep Dick Cathcart (RD9), who “got it” with his no vote on HB117. I am pleased that he so very often “gets it” when it comes to issues confronting the Appoquinimink School District. On the other hand, I am perplexed by the yes vote from the other Appoquinimink School District area Representative, Rep S Quinn Johnson (RD8).

    To Sens Ennis (SD14 – my Senator) and Hall-Long (SD10): You are the two senatorial districts that cover the Appoquinimink School District. I request that you both read and consider strongly Joanne’s words above. Sen Ennis, I have heard many times of your openness and willingness to work along with school boards. That said, I look forward to your “NO” vote on HB117, should it make it to your floor for a vote. Sen Hall-Long, I have not heard an opinion of your workings with school boards, so I am not sure where you find yourself in this issue. As already stated, please strongly consider Joanne’s words and do so with an open mind on the importance of how the Appoquinimink School Board has worked with the community over the years.

    For the record, here are the 17 State Representatives who “got it” and said NO to HB117:

    D. Short

    This entry was posted in Cathcart, Education, Guest Opinion, Guest Posts, Joanne Christian and tagged Appoquinimink School Board, School Board Election, School Boards by RSmitty. Bookmark the permalink.
    David on June 17, 2009 at 18:40 said:
    I concur.

    Art Downs on June 17, 2009 at 20:35 said:
    Perhaps this expedient would increase turnout and even encourage real debate. The first 21 years of my life were spent in Baltimore, where the Board of Education was stacked with hacks who seemed dedicated to the cause of mediocrity in the name of a faux egalitarinism. They were a virtual confederacy of dunces.

    But how often are elected school board members toadies to the Educational Establishment who buy into every fad and gimmick that is available? De we have cost-effective education in the state? Do the taxpayers (and students) get their money’s worth? Are the teachers allowed to do as well as they wish?

    We need a return to knowledge-based education.

    John Young on June 18, 2009 at 00:46 said:

    I indeed concur with your well thought out rebuttal to the lunacy of HB 117, I even offered an alternative (not perfect) of moving the SB elections to the PRIMARY (put on all machines so all can vote) so the “intuitive” cost savings can be realized but we can have a chance of having an informed electorate make the choice. I am not saying the general election electorate isn’t informed, I am saying they are not necessarily informed on this NON-partisan race.

    You lay out the issues well.

    My guy, Oberle, voted no too so I give kudos to him, and I hope the Senate demands the fiscal note, AND reviews the implications of HB 117 that are well beneath the “surfacy” approach that Longhurst took to writing this bad bill.

    Art Downs on June 18, 2009 at 07:45 said:
    We need to pay more attention to the people who are elected to school boards. They need to answer questions about basic educational goals.

    Considering the cost and quality of Delaware schools, we may not be getting the brightest and the best in this category.

    This may be why tax increases are being voted down in referenda as the public becomes disgusted with money being thrown down gold-plated bureaucratic ratholes.

    RSmitty on June 18, 2009 at 08:08 said:
    Art – you’re starting to make me think I (and a few others, I am sure) live on an island! On the whole, the community up here (or down here, depending where you are) in Appoquinimink land (the Middletown-Odessa-Townsend area) is generally pleased with the operations of the school board and their ease-of-openess with us. Their management of issues, logistics, etc are good, as well. Do we like to hear of referenda at any time it happens? Not really, but are we generally supportive of ASD’s initiative when that time comes around? Yeah, we have been. We have good people doing a good job here.

    Bill Dunn on June 19, 2009 at 14:11 said:
    Apologetically, I couldn’t get past where in Joanne note/article it says,
    “Board members are unaligned volunteers legislated to be elected by a local community to oversee local policy and local monies on behalf of their schools – and schools alone. There is no power of one. The board is a unit. It is a hobby or a passion. It is not a job. Their relative knowledge in education, fiscal policy, and local priorities narrows them to the select position the community entrusts, akin to a village elder or community organizer. They have nothing to trade, nothing to deal [and] nothing to barter.”

    I don’t know if Joanne wrote this or she’s quoting someone else, but in either case, the writer is either incredibly naive or incredibly stupid.

    All the changes that have been made in public education over the past fifteen years, have been firmly grounded in blocks of Board members from up and down the State, pressuring Legislators to move the processes and policies in a direction that is tied to political philosophy for the future of public education. Admittedly, my experiences in Red Clay with people like Bill Manning (ex- President of RC Board, ex-Chief of Staff for Gov. Pete Dupont), Irwin Becnel (Present Board Prez.), Loretta and Vern Rice (past Board member and first President of CSW Board respectively) and Bob Andrewjeski are not necessarily comparable to other people’s experiences with other Boards. Nonetheless, to think Board positions are not political is ludicrous.
    As admirable as I think Joanne and I believe some are in accepting a Board position, to many, it doesn’t take to long to begin to appreciate the connections and ties to political aspects of local and State government, and how beneficial it may be aligning yourself to politicians of one party or the other to help the children and schools they are trying to represent. Just as important, if they’re building schools, approving contracts and forwarding areas of interest that cost money, they very much have things to trade, deals to make and items to barter!!! (I can’t believe she wrote that!)

    I’ll try to come back to the issue later, but I’m out of time for now.

    RSmitty on June 19, 2009 at 14:21 said:
    Thanks, Bill. Constructive opposition is welcome. That’s exactly how we get to concensus as well as somewhere better than now.

    Elwood Blues on June 19, 2009 at 18:17 said:
    It’s like it’s always been. Two dumbass upstate districts that can’t get shit straight have ruined it for everyone else.

    joanne christian on June 19, 2009 at 19:23 said:
    Hi Smitty,
    Just back in from being incommunicado for this week ( oh those teenage backpacking trips)…thanks for the opportunity to guest post. I’m a bit exhausted and soaked to get into real thumb wars right now with Bill Dunn, so let me just say whoever you are Elwood Blues–you took the type right off my keyboard, and given my official surrogate response–THANK YOU. And if you are in a position to “get it” please vote NO on HB 117. Thanks….

    RSmitty on June 19, 2009 at 22:31 said:
    Well, so long as everyone handles the discussion with a level of understanding, meaning that Bill’s perspective is from RCSD which is VASTLY different from that of Appo. I believe I understand why he and others (look at Kilroy, of all people) support fully or support luke-warm (Kilroy’s case) HB117; whereas, we are strongly opposed to it. That’s a reflection of the product of our board. I like that Bill did come, but I certainly want this to be productive.

    Man, I’m such a freaking independent!

    RSmitty on June 19, 2009 at 22:31 said:
    Oh yeah, no to HB117.

    John Davis on June 20, 2009 at 01:08 said:
    Bill Dunn I am sorry you and many others have had a bad experience in Red Clay. That does not make you an expert in Appoquinimink, Capital, Caesar Rodney, or Cape Henlopen School districts etc. etc. etc. .

    Like so many other Northern New Castle Residents you take your knowledge of one district and extend it to the rest of the state. This is a logical fallacy that is taught in Logic 101 to be fallse. In any college Logic intro course, One in fact infers rules about the particular based on the general not vice versa as you have done.

    Also, as a resident of Kent County I find it offensive that you infer that my vote and influence is impacted by the opinion of Bill Manning. I know Bill and have known him for 20 + years. Your assertion that he or anyone else from New Castle County has ANY IMPACT Whatsoever on any Board Member in any other School District outside of Red Clay is ludicrous. Until you prove further I am convinced that this is just another case of Northern New Castle County arrogance and bias directed against those of us South of the Canal (this includes Joann Christian)

    In the end Bill your problems in Red Clay should be decided in Red Clay and not with the involvement of the rest of the state. How HB 117 will solve your particular woes you have mysteriously left out of your argument?

    I think HB 117 is well intentioned but not realistic. Currently, the schools use personnel that would typically be already working that day to administer elections. School secretaries man the polls and other school personnel are available. Since all school personnel are ultimately state employees, I don’t really see the savings. I don’t even see overtime costs as most School Board elections don’t open the polls until 10 am.

    As for Joann Christian, I can honestly say as one who has supported her politically and one who has worked in her school district, that Joann Christian is dedicated to the best in education and dedicated to the best in government. Joann pulls no punches and tells it like it is and is bought by no one regardless of their connections to the Northern New Castle Heirarchy.

    David Anderson on June 20, 2009 at 12:16 said:
    I echo John’s praise of Joann, She is a model of service.

    RSmitty on July 1, 2009 at 11:21 said:
    Died in committee!!! Died in committee!!! Died in committee!!!

    Of course, I would have much preferred it have its day and then be voted to death, but for now, a stay has effectively been given.

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