Vote for independenceWritten by Steven Flagg | | firstname.lastname@example.org
When it comes to political campaigns, it is always difficult to get at the facts and determine if a candidate is worthy of your vote. I vote in every election and this political season may actually be worse than the past. It is difficult to find relevant information about the candidates as most coverage has been limited primarily to the mayoral campaign.
The lack of coverage of local council and school board races is unfortunate and only supports the status quo. While the mayoral race is important, our city can not thrive and prosper without good leadership on council and in our schools.
When you consider the Toledo School Board race, this community has gotten little coverage from the local media.
TPS has a general fund that equals the City of Toledo and Lucas County combined. Annual expenditures from all funds are $400-500 million not counting the current building program which was scaled back to around $600 million from over $800 million. This is an important public institution worthy of attention and scrutiny.
The real concern in this school board race is the undue influence of Francine Lawrence of the Toledo Federation of Teachers. Lawrence already has a strong influence on the TPS Board with Vasquez, Sobecki and the recently appointed Hill under her wing. If the endorsed Democratic candidates, Vasquez, Hill and Green, are elected to the Board, that influence will reach its zenith. Which begs the question: Who will represent the community?
How can it be good for public policy if employees elect their bosses?
The result is obvious when you look at the current budget crisis for the City of Toledo. You will get runaway costs that either result in cannibalizing the labor force or ever increasing demands on the public for funding – new levies and taxes. You will get an organization that will not be scrutinized for efficiency. You will also get policy which puts employees before the students and the mission of public education. This can’t be good for public education in Toledo and our responsibility to create successful students.
Lawrence is now aiming her guns at Darlene Fisher calling her the worst board member and using a “whisper” campaign in this community to assassinate her character. Why? The collective bargaining contracts expire in early 2010 and she does not want any questions asked. This has nothing to do with the excellent job Fisher is doing on the board.
The only candidate that has stood up and said that even labor contracts have to support students and the mission of TPS is Darlene Fisher. She has been the voice of reason, accountability, and transparency in our community. She is independent of the conflicts of interest that stem from support by the collective bargaining units of TPS. She has steadfastly remained independent and stated that her primary focus is student success.
Unlike other candidates that were appointed or are running for the first time, Darlene has demonstrated through her record, numerous articles written and interviews conducted what she believes. Darlene backs it up with action.
The Urban Coalition endorses and strongly supports Darlene Fisher for Toledo School Board.
We were originally going to ask voters to consider bullet voting for Fisher as we need a strong, independent community voice on the Toledo School Board, but two other candidates deserve your consideration; James Jones and Vince Hornik.
Jones is an educator who has been a teacher and administrator in TPS. He recognizes that the major underlying problem with TPS is politics. He understands the mine fields and problems, has good ideas regarding solving the academic problems, and is independent of the internal special interests at TPS. He has a lot to learn, but frankly so does everyone else running for the Board except Fisher with 4 years of solid experience.
James Jones deserves your consideration and support.
Hornik is another newcomer, but one that brings a wealth of experience in working to make parents a part of their school. He has worked hard to make the educational experience better not only for his kids, but all the kids in the schools he has worked with. This experience and knowledge would be very valuable to the TPS Board. He does lack knowledge of the problems of underperforming schools in the central city, but I believe he brings an open mind. Most running for Toledo School Board have little knowledge of the issues of underperforming schools except Fisher and seem to lack that open mind for exploring changes to improve student success. He is independent of the internal special interests groups at TPS.
Vince Hornik also deserves your consideration and support.
In making these recommendations, the party affiliation of the candidates was NOT considered.
Steven Flagg has been an education activist for 15 years and serves as the communications chair for the Urban Coalition. More information can be found at tpsinfo.com.