Thursday, August 5, 2010

Just Do It: Democracy In Action

Yes folks, that's right--it is time for you to consider running for school board. 
In fact, it is almost past time!
The filing deadline for the November 2, 2010 election is 4 p.m. on Tuesday August 10th. 

Applicants for any school board position in the county file at the Election Division, Washtenaw County Clerk Office, 200 North Main Street, Ann Arbor MI.

From the County Clerk:
Local School Board candidates, Community College Trustee candidates and District Library Board candidates who wish to seek office at the November general election file an Affidavit of Identity and a nominating petition. (A $100.00 nonrefundable fee may be filed in lieu of a petition.) Withdrawal deadline elapses at 4:00 p.m. on Aug. 13. (168.303; 397.181; 389.83, 152)
So--that's how you do it. Your local school administration office, and/or the county clerk, will be happy to help you with the details. 

For instance, in Ann Arbor, there are 5 seats up for election--two 4-year positions, one 2-year term, two 1-year terms. That is more than there have been in quite a while. There are at least two open terms in Ypsilanti, get the idea. I didn't check every school district, but most of them have people whose terms end in 2010. 

And this is what I've been contemplating. There were more candidates than positions every time the Ann Arbor school board had an opening this year. And yet, when there was an information session earlier this summer about becoming a board member, only people who were already on the board showed up. What is wrong with this picture?

So why is it that when there is a board opening (which we saw in several school districts this past year), there are plenty of people who submit their names to be replacements for board members who resigned. We had some outstanding candidates! Some of them were chosen, some were not. [I am not implying anything about current board members. In my opinion, there were more outstanding candidates than there were positions. Isn't that what you want to see?]

And yet, in general, school board elections are rarely contested. Is the experience of being chosen (or not) through an election so much than being chosen by the school board itself? In an election, the people choose. 

It is not necessarily the best thing for a school board to choose its colleagues. I think it probably reduces the chance of having minority opinions. Aren't school board members more likely to pick people who agree with them rather than people who don't?

Demonstrate the democratic process! File to be a school board candidate.
And I'll tell you what--to sweeten the deal--any school board candidate is welcome to post a candidate's statement on this blog--how's that for generosity?

What I'd like to see is some competition! I'd like to see competing ideologies. I'd like to see a variety of racial and ethnic backgrounds. I'd like to see a variety of skill sets. I want people with finance skills; I want people with education skills; I want people with experience lobbying Lansing; I want people who know about child development. I want people who don't have a "hard" skill set, but who play well with others. I want people who care exceedingly about the education of the kids in their community. 

So--if you think that describes you, why not throw your hat in the ring?

1 comment:

  1. Thoughts on the appointment process vs. the election process:

    Perhaps the election process opens the candidate up to too much public scrutiny and criticism?

    Campaigns are time-consuming and can be expensive, too.

    With the appointment, there is not much notice, so people don't have time to think through the ramifications and talk themselves out of it!

    Some potential appointees may like the idea of a shorter commitment (usually less than one year), and/or want to try out the position before running for it for real.

    Some people may not want to know how many voters reject them in an election; on the other hand, having boardmembers reject a candidate during an appointment is awfully personal!

    All that said, I can't wait to see who is running!

    - YpsiAnon