Thursday, March 28, 2013

Small Town Politics

Small town politics are always personal.

Politics are always local.

Yes, we have the national and state elections, the national and statewide issues that affect our lives, but it is the local, the immediate, that has an impact that is felt before the ink is dry.

Such is the case with two school board issues in two towns I'm affiliated with.

Never mind the closing of the Chicago Public School by Major Rahm Emmanuel, never mind the creationism seeping into the curricula in those red-states, never mind the charter school potential takeover and privatization of education across the nation, no, the local issues of these two towns have an immediate impact.

In Jefferson City where I grew up, there is a proposition to make my alma mater one massive mega school instead of dividing it up into two high schools.  There are over 600 students in the graduating class, one has to take a meal to the graduation ceremonies held at Atkins Stadium just to keep from falling out from hunger.

They want to preserve the power of the JCHS alumni-controlled-board and the reputation of the high school football team.  Forget that Jefferson City expands far east and west and has grown out past the "new mall" and Truman Boulevard.  It is past time for two high schools.  I know if I were living back there, my daughters would not be going to that huge high schools.  Why are they not following the model of rival Columbia, MO that has two high schools - Rock Bridge and Hickman?

Small town politics are almost always about power and control.

In Kirkwood, where I current live, I am one of five candidates for two school board positions.

Again, small town politics.

The school board voted on a salary increase for the teachers in the middle of a tough economic recovery, 8% unemployment in our little suburb, an empty food pantry in our suburb, and salary cuts across the city. The current superintendent makes more than the university presidents in the region and certainly more than my equally credentialed husband who has more departments, more staff, more students, and a higher budget as part of his daily responsibilities.  For what? Prestige.

A gentlemen wrote a letter to the editor of our local patch to bring more light to this issue of teacher salaries and the rush to have it voted on before the county property assessments were completed.

Power and control.

There are a lot of things that are not in the public domain that should be, from Jefferson City and the mega campus to Kirkwood and the ever-increasing-financial questions, the public is not privy to all those decisions.

Both boards probably say they are acting in the best interest of the citizens, the students, but that is being questioned. Really?

I hope the voters come out on April 2nd and really let their voices be heard at the in the voting booth.

Tune in and pay attention, these decisions are more immediate and more impactful to you than the stories we hear on NPR or read about on the Huffington Post.

Politics are local and politics are personal.  Time to get involved.

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