It’s time to shake up our school boards

It’s time to shake up our school boards

Threatening to vote someone off of a school board is like threating to stop beating them with a two-by-four. – Jeff Ward

Yes! I’m the one who said that. But per that perspicacious bible verse, there truly is a time to every purpose under the sun. And since our school boards failed us so miserably during the pandemic, it’s time to toss my two-by-four hypothesis out the window and aim for a complete reset.

To be clear, my temporary stance shift in no way minimizes the perils involved in serving on a school board. It’s a terrifying proposition because you’re dealing with parents’ two most precious commodities – their children and their money. Worse yet, those well-intentioned folks get no salary, the job can be incredibly time consuming, and the press only pays attention to you when you screw up.

But the fact that the task is particularly demanding in no way diminishes the requirement that, if you choose to do it, then it needs to be done right. I can’t find a single case of a school board candidate being forced to run under threat of death. And by “done right” I don’t mean perfection, I mean a mien along the lines of the Hippocratic Oath’s most basic obligation to do no harm.

But our school board members did immense harm to the very individuals they’re sworn to protect from it – our children. Despite the COVID mortality rate among the 0 to 17 age group sitting at an infinitesimal 0.01 percent – the same number for the annual flu – our school boards insisted on turning the plague into a progressive political cudgel that wreaked havoc on their most vulnerable constituents.

Put more simply, the social distancing, mandatory masking, and particularly remote learning mitigations failed to save a single life, but they did manage to cripple an entire generation.

Test scores have plummeted to a 30-year low. Students’ social skills and physical coordination are lagging years behind. Teen suicide and self-harm incidents are still on the rise, and the isolation induced loss of conflict resolution capacities has resulted in massive uptick in threats, bullying and in-school fights.

I understand it isn’t easy to make the tough decisions when public health bureaucrats are spouting CYA nonsense every step of the way, but that doesn’t begin to absolve a school board member from doing just that. And if you can’t make the difficult decisions, then running for school board was another bad one, too.

If someone of my limited intellect (my readers tell me this) could determine that our children weren’t at serious COVID risk and the “cure” would be far worse than the disease, then someone who purports to set policy for a major educational endeavor should’ve been light years ahead of me.

The clearest indication of their abysmal collective COVID failure is no school board member anywhere is campaigning on the basis of their mitigation role. Why? Because they want you to forget about that complete breakdown of basic logic and reasonable morality. They want you to ignore how they chose to play politics as they presided over the worst educational disaster in modern history. And now they want the opportunity to do even more damage?

Ah! But I’m going to make sure that you don’t forget, and that process starts with reminding you that virtually every school board incumbent needs to go. Better yet, the local teachers unions are always kind enough to point out exactly who we shouldn’t vote for. Simply wait for that inevitable union endorsed candidate mailer and you’ll know which candidates to avoid.

I’ve said it many times before, any union meddling in school board elections should be patently illegal because of the absurdly apparent conflict of interest. School boards were created to represent students and their parents, NOT the teachers, who are already represented by – you called it – the union. And teachers unions won’t support candidates who will make the tough decisions, they’ll back those willing to defer to the teachers to the detriment of everyone else involved.

Electing union supported candidates generally means paying higher property taxes, too.

The truly terrifying prospect in all of this is, despite being demonstrably wrong every step of the way, if we’re foolish enough to reelect the same soulless individuals and the pandemic takes an unlikely turn for the worse, they won’t hesitate to do more damage next time. The truth is they’re simply not capable of making the right call.

Not to mention there’s always a value in ejecting any politician who’s proven they’re not up to the task. Poor decisions, regardless of the circumstances, should never be rewarded.

Please also consider that, with Springfield doing their damnedest to slap our school districts with a plethora of puerile progressive mandates, not the least of which is the overly “woke” new sex-ed standard, we need school board members with the intestinal fortitude to stand up for our children now, more than ever.

I understand that, in this overwhelming post-COVID era, the last thing you want to consider is a small odd-year school board election. But just as it is with those desperately down ballot judicial races, these board members have a much larger impact on our daily lives than any statewide or national elected official ever will.

So, with voting by mail being easier than ever, let’s embark upon the kind of 2023 school board reset that will provide our children with a real opportunity to recover from those terrible pandemic decisions.

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