Too often local school board races are a matter of trying to find the least objectionable candidate to vote for. If you come across someone whose calls for increased spending are 10% less than other candidates and is only in lockstep with the teachers' union 80% of the time, you consider yourself lucky and pull the lever for the slighter lesser of the many evils.
Which is why it's such a breathe of fresh air to see someone like Andrew Richter running for school board. Even better, he's running in District 281 so I get a chance to vote for him.
He gets off to a good start with My Pledges to You from his website:
I will not vote to spend one penny of your money on consultants, studies, or search firms. There is no reason for the Board to contract out their job.
I will press our legislature to end the unfunded mandates as well as the Choice Is Yours Program.
I will not come to the taxpayers for a referendum unless is the absolute last resort. The citizens of this district are not an ATM machine.
I will work to end the International Baccalaureate (IB) Program. This program pushes a certain world point of view and is run by world elites who are not accountable to our district.
Our AYP test scores are unacceptable. Fourteen out of sixteen schools failing the test is a joke. Board members need to be outraged at this and demand better, rather than make pathetic excuses.
Even better are some of the bits from a school board candidate profile that appeared in the local community newspaper (and for some inexplicable reason is not available online):
The board should represent everyone, not just the parents or yes voters.
...as a non-parent I think I'll bring the perspective of the common citizen to the board. I also have a great ability to say the word "no," which seems to be a problem in government. I also bring an independent voice, since I am not endorsed by an group or union.
You had me at "no."
I don't look at the area I've lived my whole life in and see groups, victims, race, or national origin. The best thing we can do for every student is to offer equal opportunity; we can't guarantee equal outcome. We need parents and community members to be our partners in this, but the schools are not daycare centers, baby-sitters, parents, or the Cub Scouts.
I worry about the curriculum. We need to teach more American history and eliminate indoctrination programs like IB.
More American history, less indoctrination in the public schools? Is this guy for real?
Alas, I fear that Richter's outspoken positions--while eminently sensible and reasonable--will likely result in him not being elected. Unfortunately it seems that the people with the most interest in school board elections are those with a vested and usually economic interest in the outcome. They aren't the kind of folks who take kindly to the word "No."
But at least this time around I'll be able to cast my ballot for a candidate whose views I actually agree with and not simply the least worst choice.