School Board

The animosity between the school district/teachers/some of the school board members and other school board members has been interesting to follow. A letter to the editor in this week’s Cityview has me kind of seething, though.

Two of the people running for school board currently have their children enrolled in private schools. The letter, from Deb McMahon, a teacher, includes statements such as “It smacks of elitism” and “the schools aren’t for my family but I want to show you how to run them.” (PS, there are several poorly-constructed sentences in her letter, as well, but let’s assume that’s poor editing on Cityview’s part, shall we?) (She follows these statements with nasty comments about Narcisse, including “need to examine (his) motives.” Um, he’s not the only one.)

I remember a few years ago, a local homeschooling mom ran for school board and was the recipient of many similar comments. As though people who do not have kids enrolled in our public school have no right to sit on the school board. Excuse me? Well, if only people with kids enrolled in public schools paid taxes for those schools, I could see the point. If only people with kids enrolled in public schools were affected by those schools, I could see the point. But ALL homeowners pay for those schools, and ALL citizens live here with the results of those schools, and we ALL have an equal right to run for and sit on the school board.

Would my father-in-law be subject to the same types of comments if he decided to run for school board? He doesn’t have children enrolled in public schools – they’re all grown. What if I were running? I don’t have kids in school – they’re too young. Should only middle-aged parents of public school children be allowed on the Board? When did that become a rule??

Ms McMahon says “Serving on a school board is a selfless act made by citizens who care deeply about public education.” Her statement assumes a few things, in light of her earlier comments. 1, she assumes that those not currently using the public schools don’t care about public education. Personally, I do not plan to use public schools, but you can bet that I care a LOT about public education. 2, she assumes that everyone on a School Board is selfless and serving only out of selflessness. If only that were true! But I am not naive enough to believe that School Boards are the only political institution free of ulterior motives and politics-as-usual. Please.

But let’s attack this from another angle. Why wouldn’t a public school want the opinions and thoughts of those who don’t currently use their services? Particularly, why wouldn’t they want to hear from homeschoolers and private schoolers? I especially thought that the homeschooling mom would have been a good addition to the school board – if anyone knows about how to provide an excellent education with few resources, particularly money, it’s a homeschooler, right?

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