Four of the seven members are still on the board this coming term. With each member, we gain new insights and perspectives, but we lose history and understanding of past issues. Being a member of a school board is probably the first public elective office most people experience.
This job will open your eyes about what public servants endure as school teachers and administrators,
Some members of the board will run for other offices and continue a political career they started at this level. Others have children in school and their interest is to see that their children get the best education possible. It will take a few years, studying many issues, before the complexity of the job and the enormity of our responsibility are understood.
Working with limited budgets, dwindling enrollment, a national agenda that has emphasized assessment rather than opportunities, a public disinterest in taxing itself to improve the common good, a public servant has an uphill battle to fight at all levels of politics.
Add to this mix the fact that for decades, at the national level, the trend to dismantle public education in favor of charter schools, or to support and encourage independent schools run by for-profit corporations with public funds and no public oversight, all of which is sold to individuals as the only way to improve public schools, all of this means trouble for public entities. We have already dropped our financial support to a point where school buildings are crumbling, buses eat up a big chunk of the budget, and local municipalities are scrambling to pass bonds to maintain basic services.
If you add health care woes and a citizenry that is getting grayer and less concerned with the needs of the youth, problems will never be addressed by the local politicians.
Who is to blame? Why the employees, and their unions, who dared to ask for raises and for a duty-free half hour lunch! Not!!!
We have forgotten that public servants have a vested interest in their jobs, committing their own money and resources to support their classrooms, and who, when they retire will live on a meager pension that was never enhanced with bonuses, stock options, matching 401K investment funds.
Does the public understand that these folks were serving them loyally for decades, often just earning enough money to skip over the poverty line, paying off their student loans slowly, taking summer jobs to live to September, and when everyone was gloriously cashing in their bonuses and paid vacations, they lived on a meager salary that paid them only for the nine months in front of children, and not for all the preparation time that it took to collect materials and organize lessons.
Ask your local teachers how much stuff of theirs is stored in their garages. Every teacher I know has boxes and boxes of materials and lesson plans stashed away in their homes, books they bought to enhance reading, workbooks to assist with math, projects for science and history, and innumerable stashes of supplies for those days when the office runs out of everything, sometime around March.
One of my children has been teaching over twenty years, and his salary was less than what his younger brother was offered on his first job. Teachers, on the average, make less than twenty dollars an hour.
If we just remember that every one of our citizens has a vote in this country, we should be concerned about his literacy and thinking skills, his commitment to the public good, his understanding of what a community can be if everyone is equally involved and equally educated.