No elected school board?

Gotta love it when the argument against an elected school board boils down to “we can’t pick a decent council” so let them pick the school board for us.

Seriously – there are many arguments against an elected school board, chief among them the lack of taxing authority. But I’m insulted by this:

In Norfolk, we haven’t proven we can elect an accountable council, so how can we expect to do a better job electing the School Board?

There are a lot of dedicated people in Norfolk who work very hard to try to hold council accountable. Remember this? And how the community responded to it, the result being council backed down?

Or how about this? It took five long years of fighting council to get that resolved.

Without hardworking, engaged citizens, the Norfolk City Council would run amok even more than it does now. Without them, there would be no new voices on council, in particular that of Tommy Smigiel.

I have no problem if the citizens don’t want an elected school board. The fact that we haven’t gotten one yet, despite several efforts in the past, is more of a testament to the difficulty with getting the required number of signatures than anything else. Were the hurdle for the referendum not so high, this question would have been resolved by now.

But to essentially call the voters incompetent? Um, no.


8 thoughts on “No elected school board?

  1. First, Brian, I hope you aren’t considering what I wrote an argument for the status quo. It was anything but that. It is an argument for holding the people we hire accountable for the job they do, or don’t do.

    My major opposition to an elected School Board is the weakness of the body. Make them a strong body, and I am in favor. I understand, Vivian, that is not likely to happen in our lifetimes. But arguing that an elected Board is better doesn’t hold water, IMHO. It is only different.

    Many people say we should have an elected Board, because “everyone else does”. My Momma use to ask me, “if everyone jumped off a bridge, would you?” I have not seen where any of the elected Boards are better, or worse, than our’s, as a whole.

    The same questioning sanity of one opposed to an elected Board is as valid as questioning the sanity of one supporting it. It doesn’t move the issue along.

    Don’t like words put in my mouth, either. I wouldn’t use the word incompentent, but not sure what word I would use. I think more than one would be needed to describe the electorate.

    But my feelings can be summed up but the saying, “the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over, expecting different results”. Until we hold our electeds accountable, local, state and national, we will continue to get what we got.

    And yes, I realize that saying could be used in arguing for an elected Board. But, until I can be convinced of the greater value of an elected Board, I will be opposed to one.

    1. I think I was quite clear that I understand that there are those who do not support an elected school board. What I take offense to is your characterization of the electorate. Even now, you say that we are not incompetent but cannot find another word to describe your sentence above. My friends on the right would call that “the arrogance of the left” but I know you are neither left nor right. I find it troublesome that you think the voters incapable of electing an accountable council, when you know full well the challenges of getting people to run for office.

      Plus, the voters did elect at least one accountable member of council, and perhaps as many as three.

      1. Incompentent was your word, not mine. I said I couldn’t come up with one word, not that I was unable to find multiple words.

        I agree, we elected at least one accountable councilman. Maybe, two. Jury still out on the third one, but my guess a hung jury.

        As far as electing an accountable council, the issue is more likely unwilling to elect an accountable council than it is incapable. I believe you and I may have talked about whether or not people really educate themselves before voting. My feeling is, most don’t. Had they, you would be Treasurer.

        If you want to talk more, I am willing, offline

  2. I don’t know the issues in Norfolk, but I’ve always had a conceptual problem with having an elected board which has no responsibility for the tax monies that it spends. Those who spend it should have to raise it.

  3. The problem with an appointed school board is the same as with all appointed boards. The appointed members will be picked due to personal/professional connections to the council instead of qualifications for the job. Some time you luck out and get a qualified person but many times you do not.

    An example happened in Hampton a while back on a board for one of the colleges. The city council appoints this board. The chosen board member was on the staff of one of the council members. People did apply who were extremely qualified and held phd’s that dealt with education. However, the chosen applicant did not even have a Bachelors or Associate degree. Luckly, he resigned from the board after a short period of time and was appointed to another board. I do not know if it was because of fighting on the board or if this person is just building a resume. Either way the college was better off with a new qualified member.

    Is this the avenue you really want for your schools.

    I agree with Vivians comment above that about the voters. I find it impertinent that you think the voters are incapable of making any good choices. Things can be done to make it easier to attract more people to run for office. If you think the decisions of the city council proves they are a bad governing body then why would you want to pass off to them a board you care about ?

    I get the overall idea of your concern but I do not think an appointed school board is the solution you are looking for.

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