Barrett Manor

Julie Barrett is a freelance writer and photographer based in Plano, TX.

And You Wonder Why People Don't Vote?

Fresh (almost) daily from Julie Barrett

A couple of weeks ago we elected three new members to our school board. They'd run mostly on a platform that appealed to voter dissatisfaction regarding the redrawing of boundary lines in the school district. I've hashed over this a gazillion times and will give it a miss. However, there's a perception - for better or worse - that the board moves in lockstep and doesn't listen to the people who voted them into office.

Three board members isn't a majority out of seven, but there is hope they'll bring new ideas and actually listen to voters. Then there was this article at A reporter was present at a board training session. The trainer stressed the importance of backing the superintendent at all times and showing a unanimous front to the public.

Well, this explains some things.

Hey, it's one thing for parents to present a united front. Their kids didn't elect them. But when we elect politicians, we expect at least some votes to mirror the diverse opinions of the folks they represent. Instead (and I've been at school board meetings) they listen to community opinions and then lecture those who oppose their plans as though they're recalcitrant school children who had better buckle down and play for the team, dammit. I've expressed concerns to the school board at meetings and through e-mail with no result. Not even a "thanks for writing." As though acknowledging dissenting viewpoints is somehow evil. (However, allow me to make it abundantly clear that the staff at the central office has always been prompt in answering questions and assisting with problems. Even if they couldn't help, they were polite and professional.)

The citizens elect the school board, who hires the superintendent. That means the superintendent should answer to the board, and not the other way around.

Plano has grown to a diverse community with many needs. What is wrong with a vote on the school board or council reflecting that diversity?

One of the big problems I see is that the school board gives the APPEARANCE of moving in unison, when they may have spent a long time hashing out a compromise. Let's make that hashing out process transparent. I want to know how my elected officials arrive at a decision. Show us it isn't all consultants and backroom deals. We might be more supportive of your decisions if we knew how and why they were reached.

Just a thought that no one will pay heed to.

Tags: Politics

Filed under: Politics            
5/17/2010 1:58:37 PM
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