"I know no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education. This is the true corrective of abuses of constitutional power." - Thomas Jefferson 1820

"There is a growing technology of testing that permits us now to do in nanoseconds things that we shouldn't be doing at all." - Dr. Gerald Bracey author of Rotten Apples in Education

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Sunday, March 27, 2011

Who's Running For Your School Board?

School Board elections are coming up in 9 days in Missouri. Have you figured out who is running in your district? If you're lucky to live in a metropolitan district like St. Louis or Kansas City you can go to the County Election Commission website to find the answer. If you are in one of the smaller counties in MO you may have to call the the County Clerk's office. A phone may be your best bet for getting the information on candidates because, while some of these county election offices have websites, many are not kept up to date and do not list candidates running for local office. Some of them will link you to the Secretary of State website, but if they haven't updated that link recently you may be looking at 2010 campaign results. Even if they do have the link updated, the SOS does not list local election information. They consider that the County Clerk's jobs. Are you getting dizzy yet with the circular links?

You can pretty much write off the local School Board web page for that information as well. Most are happy to provide you with the names of the existing Board members, but do not share who has filed to run against the incumbents. That leaves a lot of people watching their local paper to catch the issue that lists the candidates, usually a week or two before the election.

Then there are the candidates themselves. If you have succeeded in step one and found out who is running, your next hurdle is to find out something about them. Again, the more urban candidate is likely to have a website. Some only have a Facebook page which is great if you only want to read comments from people the candidate has friended. It is safe to assume there will be a skew towards the positive, and it is a little like listening in to the gossip on the party line. How will you know if you have a candidate who is running for school board because he would like to get into politics and someone told him the School Board is a good place to start (this was actually said by one candidate).

You have another option, and that is to go to the Abigail Adams Project for Missouri and look for your district there. AAP's goal is to provide candidate information to the voters. You will notice they have run into similar problems trying to get information from 114 counties for 524 school districts statewide. As a 100% volunteer effort, AAP is limited in what they can accomplish.

They have a questionnaire for candidates that you can see here, but candidates have said they think answering it is a lose-lose proposition. They don't want you to know how many school board meetings they have attended or whether they have met with current school board members. They are free to decline to respond to questions they think need a more nuanced answer, but they would rather duck all questions.

Curriculum issues aside, these people are the ones who write the policy for your district. They are the ones who decide if your district has a zero tolerance policy that can suspend a child with bloodshot eyes because they suspect drug use when in fact his bloodshot eyes came from days of crying after his father was murdered. The school board can decide which topics will be discussed behind closed doors, away from public input and scrutiny. If you have a child in school you owe it to them to know who you are putting on the school board that will have direct impact on their daily lives. You have 9 days so get going.

1 comment:

  1. Wow. Look at what's going on in school board elections in Ozark, MO.



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