[LCSD] A Lebanon Weekend #4

UPDATE:  Check the bottom.

At the request of LT and a few others, I temporarily broke my ban on reading the DH and checked out Jennifer Moody’s article on Sen. Morse’s proposal regarding K-12 school district board members.  From the DH article:

Morse said he wants the state Board of Education to create a certification process for school board members, with yearly updates, and not allow them to serve until they’ve received training.

“One of the biggest problems in any organization — it isn’t just school boards — is if you have a government (that) doesn’t understand it’s really a policy-making body, it isn’t operating the institution,” Morse said. “I think you can head off some of these disputes.”

THANK YOU SENATOR MORSE.  I suspect the reason this has never come up before is that it was never needed.  Luckily (that’s sarcasm, by the way), the LCSD board has provided that need.

For the record, I think this is a great idea.

Note, too, what Morse says about the role of a school board, and what I said in a previous post about Alexander’s take on the board’s role in relation to the district.

Current LCSD Board Chair Josh Wineteer does not appear to agree with Morse:

But Wineteer, now the chairman of the Lebanon School Board, said that while he would support tighter guidelines for what can be said on recall petitions, he is skeptical of putting requirements on an elected position or voter procedure that could limit who serves and for how long.

“This country was founded on the idea that all elected positions could be held by anyone,” he said. “If you put requirements on a school board member, you’ve got to put requirements on a state senator, you’ve got to put requirements on a U.S. senator, you’ve got to put requirements on the president.”

First, that’s kind of egotistical, comparing one’s self to the President like that.  But for the purposes of argument, Wineteer has a point.  However, it doesn’t actually follow that the same requirements should be placed on other elected positions; there is an obvious difference between a school board member and the President of the United States.

Furthermore, there are some requirements on other elected positions – no minors, must be a resident of the US, must be 35 (in the case of the President), etc.  I am sure there are more in other cases.

On top of that, there are already term limits on plenty of elected positions, including, oh, State Senators and Presidents.  That’s just a factual error on Wineteer’s part.

Far smarter on his part would have been to make positive noises that fell short of total support.  I don’t understand what Wineteer gains by pushing back against this proposal, since he clearly can’t beat it, and even if he did go through training – like Shimmin and McUne have done – nothing requires him to change his behavior based on the training.  Opposing the proposal now just makes him look, well, silly.

This part of the proposal I feel less strongly about:

Sending recall petitions to the Board of Education provides them with an “objective filter,” Morse said.

“If the board found there was not just cause, then the recall would not go forward,” he said. “Recalls should really be for cause, and they need to be thoughtfully considered.”

I like the idea of review.  I don’t like the idea of having the Board of Education do the review, for the same reason I don’t like, on principle, having administrators with grade-changing powers:  It undermines the authority of thee group that should have it.  Further, in this case, having the government review recall petitions undermines direct democracy.

That said, I might support a proposal that included peer-like review, such as the school board of another district (of similar size and demographic, but not necessarily geographically close) reviewing the recall petition.  (This, of course, relies on the mutual professionalism of board members – but with the exception of parts of the LCSD, that doesn’t seem to be a big problem in the rest of the state.  Or perhaps controversial boards could be banned from being reviewers.)

One other thing that interests me about Wineteer’s skepticism:  I suspect it’s rooted in the belief that absolute local control is necessary to prevent ‘another Robinson.’  Given that I don’t agree with Wineteer’s treatment of Robinson, I think it’s also safe to say that I find Wineteer’s skepticism suspect.

UPDATE:  It just occured to me that there are already meaningful restrictions on the Board positions.  From the LCSD’s policy BBBA – Board Qualifications (PDF):

Persons will be eligible to serve as Board members if they are registered voters of the district and have been residents within the district for one year immediately preceding the election or appointment. All Board members in the Lebanon Community School District will be elected by zone. Individuals eligible for Board positions must reside in the appropriate zone unless as otherwise permitted by law.

No person who is an employee of the district will be eligible to serve as a Board member while so employed. A person who is an employee of a public charter school may not serve as a member of the Board of the district in which the public charterb school that employs the person is located.

This does not make Wineteer’s comment look any smarter to me.

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One Comment on “[LCSD] A Lebanon Weekend #4”

  1. Angela Says:

    Another note on “requirements to be President” is that candidates have to pass through more filters than it seems like school board candidates have–all the primaries/caucuses and then the conventions. Plus all the financial backing that’s required; it’s not like lots of people and institutions will give plenty of money to completely unqualified and clueless people…though I guess the rich ones some people want to use as stupid, parrot-like figureheads do still squeeze through on occasion *cough*Bush*cough*

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