This is both an announcement/reminder post, but also an attempt to provoke your grey matter and maybe even generate discussion.
First, I am going to assume you do realize that you, as a tax-payer and vote-caster, do indeed have a voice that the school board members, as your publicly elected officials, are obligated to pay heed to. This means that we voters have to hold them accountable, and the board members have to allow themselves to be held accountable. In an ideal and somewhat Utopian fashion, this relationship would be built on trust and mutual respect. Unfortunately, our State has done us a disservice in terms of being role models in this regard; none the less, let us remember our obligations.
Having said that, there are elections coming up on April 9th, 27 days from now. Within the next 27 days, do you know who you will vote for and why? Perhaps at this stage of the game you had not even planned to vote. Or maybe you had the election on the back burner of your brain and figured you would get around to contemplating the candidates “tomorrow”. Well, this is your lucky day! For in fact, tomorrow there is a candidate forum – an excellent opportunity to hear more about the candidates that are running:
PTA Council Candidate Forum tomorrow night (March 14th) @ 7 p.m. at the Mellon Administrative Center. The forum will also air on Champaign Government Television starting Friday.
In addition, Meg Dickinson will be running an article in the near future on the candidates, so keep your eyes peeled. And finally, Laura Bleill of chambanamoms.com talks about some of the qualities that she, as a parent, would like to see in a board member:
Just as a reminder, there are two sub-races for the board this time; three 4-year seats and two 2-year seats. The 2-year slots are uncontested and filled by incumbents. The three 4-year seats will be decided between five candidates (alphabetical by first name this time):
- Chuck Jackson - http://www.jacksonfor4.com/
- John Williams III – facebook
- Laurie Bonnett – facebook
- Lynn Stuckey - http://lynnstuckey.net/home/
- Scott MacAdam
For the sake of disclosure, I am helping with Chuck Jackson’s campaign. And why do I support Chuck? Without saying anything else about the other candidates or current board members, Chuck is not one to drink the kool-aid; he asks questions, he listens, he probes when probing is needed, he says what’s on his mind, has thick skin and is not easily offended, and most importantly, he really “gets it” that public education is all about making sure every child is succeeding in school in collaboration with the community.
To that end, we have not been satisfied with the recent attempt to engage the public on figuring out how to handle Central. To address that, we will be holding a minimum of three workshops (hoping they are in the style of a charrette), the first one being targeted for March 24th, and perhaps two more before the end of May. We hope to have workshops that are friendly for specific communities, and thus by nature we will be going to them. The whole point is that we are talking about some serious tax referrenda in 2014 (County Nursing home, airport authority, possible new jail, on top of a possible referendum to build a new Unit 4 high school and maybe other schools). These are taxes that have the potential of really hurting the lower socio-economic classes. I personally want to know what they think about that, and if they are ok with these taxes. We are still in the early stages of planning, but my vision is to have large aerial maps with transparent overlays and using simple things like Monopoly(r) hotels to place and reposition schools, marking things up in colored markers, and documenting up the wazoo what people are saying and thinking. Oh, if you want to help, please let us know – we will gladly put you to work in helping with the planning and organization.
There were two excellent editorials this past week that I found to be quite relevant (hat tip to Pattsi):
- Sunshine Week about the public’s right to know: The point really comes down to money; if we elect people to decide how to spend our money, don’t we have the right to know exactly how our money is being spent? Somewhere down the line, we citizens have rolled over and simply given up our power in these matters. No doubt that is the easiest thing to do, but it is far from healthy.
- Motivating high schoolers to become future builders: Belden Fields talks about the rich joys of training up high school kids for the trades and the work of the Education for Employment service (EFE). We have to remember that while we talk about “education being for the kids”, they are also a part of our community, both the present and the future. Let us not presume to know exactly what they need without listening to them at all. Who knows, maybe they have the perfect answer for Central.