Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Ypsilanti Community Schools Perspective: Election Day Blues

A guest post from Ypsi Anon:
Unlike Russell Brand , I vote. 

I vote every chance I get.  I am convinced that my vote is the most important of all the votes cast, and that if I miss an election, bad things will happen and it will all be my fault!

I also believe that if I don’t vote, I don’t have a right to complain about politics, regardless of whether my candidate or issue won or lost, and I really don’t want to hide my opinions.

I like the concept of being represented in local government by someone who’s “one of us.”  Even when I disagree with the representative’s position, I try to convince myself that each person voted in is trying to make our community a better place.

One year ago, the voters in Ypsilanti and Willow Run took a bold leap of faith—or was it of desperation?—and cast their votes in favor of consolidating the two school districts.  Also on the ballot were candidates for the school boards of each district.  They became winners with an asterisk, never serving a single day in the old districts, because our elected school boards were quickly dissolved as part of the consolidation process, and a new board was appointed by the WISD board.

Citizens had (and still have) varying degrees of understanding of what would happen during the transition to a new school district.  One big change was that we lost our locally-elected representatives.  Many people knew this would happen, but not as many knew that the next chance we would have to vote for our school board would be TWO YEARS LATER.  Yes, for two years our appointed school board has no accountability to the public, but to the superintendent instead.  That was made clear from the start. 
In frustration, some people said they couldn’t wait to vote in a new board in November, then were stunned to learn it wouldn’t be THIS November. [Ed. Note: New state law says that school board elections can only be held in November of even-numbered years. That is just one more example of the micro-management of the state legislature when it comes to schools.]

Two years.  Two years of being disenfranchised (and I mean that both in the sense of not being able to vote and of feeling powerless).  Two years of people giving up hope that they have a say in what happens to our schools.  Two years to crush any lingering activism that remains here.  A lot of damage can happen during these two years.  Who will want to run for the board by the time we have that election?

Today is Election Day.  There is nothing and no one to vote for in Ypsilanti.  We have no voice.

It is going to be a long year.

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