Sunday, October 31, 2010

Important vote on Tuesday

For Concord School District Charter Commission, vote the Democracy Slate.
On Tuesday, Nov. 2, voters in Concord have a very important election to participate in. Yes, the governor, Legislature, and federal officers are all up for election. But the future of our city and school system are also on the line, with the election of members to the Concord School District Charter Commission.
The following candidates should receive your votes on Tuesday. I've nicknamed them "The Democracy Slate" because they believe in giving back parents their rights to have democratic choices when it comes to our school district charter:

At-large (3 votes): Laura Bonk and Charlie Russell
Ward 1, 2, 3, 4 (2 votes): Jim Baer and Kathy Conners
Ward 5, 6, 7 (2 votes): John Stohrer
Ward 8, 9, 10 (2 votes): Chuck Douglas.

These candidates understand the importance of this election and what needs to be done with our school district charter. They haven't fallen in line with the insiders. They have looked at the charter, followed the issues, and know the changes we need.

Based on some of the comments issued in the Concord Taxpayers Association and Concord Monitor surveys, as well as conversations I have had with at least one at-large candidate, Betty Hoadley, the following candidates could be considered for second and third votes:

* First, while Mike Donovan refused to send in his answers to the CTA survey after saying that he was ready to and grilled me with a number of questions about what the CTA was going to do with the surveys (all I did was put them online), his answers to the Monitor were interesting and he seems to understand the point of having a Charter Commission. I also had a long conversation with Hoadley at the Leadership Greater Concord event last week where she rattled off a bunch of reasons why I should vote for her. After saying that I had already sent in my endorsement letter and she wasn't on it, she continued and raised some compelling points. And, she asked for my vote too. While I haven't decided to cast a third vote for either Donovan or Hoadley, I might have to think about it. You should too.
* In the Ward 1, 2, 3, 4, race, Roy Schweiker also raised some relevant points in both of his surveys. He emailed his survey in and it was not received until after deadline. But he made some good points. Schweiker has also attended so many meetings and raised so many issues over the years and clearly understands the importance of fixing the Charter now. Baer and Conners have put even more work on this issue, but Schweiker, unlike some others, hasn't been a no-show.
* In the Ward 5, 6, 7, race, unlike the other candidates, Jessie Osborne seems to have an open mind about at least hearing some of the ideas before making a decision. Allen Bennett also raised some good points in his Monitor survey answer. Bennett refused to fill out the CTA survey and also did not return a phone call or email to me when I told him I needed another person to vote for and wanted to talk to him about the issue. This is typical of Bennett (In the past, he has not returned phone calls and then complained that I never called him). I don't completely agree with him on Ward representation, but it should be discussed and considered.

Why mention the other candidates who I may or may not be voting for? Simply put, the case could be made that this Charter Commission should be larger than it is, since there are so many interesting people running, especially those who are not connected to the current people on the school board. Those people who raised relevant issues during their campaigns deserve mentions even if I may not be voting for them.

A lot will be said about this race after the election. It's that important. Basically, there are two schools of thought. One side thinks everything is swell. These folks tend to have control over the system or are inside the system. And they will do anything and everything - colluding behind closed doors, breaking the law, etc. - to keep control of the power they now have.
The other side, which is filled with parents, historians, budget hawks, and others, believe things are not well. They are concerned with the status of student achievement and want to see school board members and administrators focus on educational excellence and not building empires. They have tried over and over and over again to get a seat at the table and to have their concerns be taken seriously those in power only to be continually ignored. It is a classic David vs. Goliath battle that happens in many small cities when a handful of people run everything into the ground.
This election, for the Charter Commission, may or may not lead to the changes that we as parents, residents, and taxpayers, need to make to improve our school system, expand representation, and have control over major bonding projects. Technically, it should.
The law, HB1457 clearly states in Section 3:
The charter commission shall have all the powers and duties of a charter commission established pursuant to this chapter and shall comply with the provisions of this chapter, except as otherwise indicated in this section.
This means, simply, that the Charter Commission has all the powers and duties of a Charter Commission, meaning that it can propose changes to the charter and put it before the voters in November 2011.
Even the final report from December 2009 of the Commission to Study the Concord School District Charter stated that this Charter Commission was to change the charter.
It stated:
A. The Commission recommends unanimously for the Legislature to relinquish control over changes to the school district charter.

E. In regards to amending the school board charter the commission recommends the elected commission use its prerogative to place questions on the ballot separately, that the current charter remain in effect until both a new charter and a new amendment process have been voted on by the citizens.
However, many of the candidates, especially those with close relationships with the school board, school administrators, and teachers union, answered "no" when asked about their positions on various changes that could be made to the Charter [See surveys online @]. Many of the proposed questions in the survey were brought before the Legislature in 2008 and are the reason why we are here in the first place.
But many of these candidates don't know that. And, more importantly, they don't know about the responsibilities of what they are running for or are running to hijack the important work that needs to be done. The candidates I have endorsed do.
On top of not knowing what the law is, many of these candidates never even set foot in the Council Chamber when the Charter Commission Study meetings were being held. The following candidates bothered to attend: Jessie Osborne, Kathy Conners, Roy Schweiker, Rodney Tenney, Martin Honigberg, John Stohrer, and Jim Baer. Clint Cogswell, Chuck Douglas, and Charlie Russell also served on the study commission.
There is something to be said for people who bother to participate in long, drawn out meetings and those who come in late to the process (although, anyone can run for the Commission).
In the end, the choice is yours. However, I have been watching this issue for years. Trust me when I say that these are the people you should be voting for on Tuesday.

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