Extremists, Radicals, and Fanatics – Oh My

Extremists, radicals, fanatics!  Sounds like a scary Halloween tale. Add in the words “tea party” and that’s supposed to make it a true horror story.  Unfortunately, this is where some in our community have taken the dialog surrounding our school board and the upcoming election. It’s time for Toto to pull back the curtain and for us to elevate the conversation.

For the record, I do believe in limited government, fiscal responsibility, and free markets. I also believe that a free society requires virtuous people and that children need to learn these concepts.  How confusing it must be for them to watch the behavior of adults and the tenor of the debate around our schools.

What has the school board done to invite this wrath? We are trying to change things in a few areas and the system would rather not change.  Just like in Washington, opponents to change assign their targets what they believe are derogatory labels – “tea party”, “extremist”, “fanatic”.  However, if you were to ask what has been done that is “fanatical”, you’ll get nothing more than generalities that have little basis in fact and are distorted to sound extreme.

If you asked me about the school board’s record over the last two years I would tell you about holding people accountable, uncovering embezzlement that had gone on for years, raising academic standards, increasing ACT scores, advocating for kids to take classes for college credit, restoring salary increases, controlling runaway medical insurance costs, balancing the budget (and giving the excess back), providing services for gifted students, reducing pay-to-play fees and increasing student participation, upgrading technology for online learning, instituting bring your own technology, reinstating high school busing, reinstating textbook purchases, reinstating a building maintenance program, and correcting numerous other deficiencies from years of administrative neglect.

You might recognize these things are good and are already implemented in other districts and ask why has it taken so long to address them in Springboro?  I don’t know, but compared to the lethargic past, this has been a pretty “radical” two years.  And to do all this while lowering taxes you would have to conclude these two years have been “fanatically” amazing and “extremely” successful.

At this point you might ask what this has to do with the upcoming school board election.  This election will set a direction, backward or forward.  The supporters of Malone and Stuckey tell you the current board is too “extreme”.  Compared to the stagnation they are accustomed to, that is understandable.  The other candidates are David Bitner and Kolton Vaughn.  They are parents with young children enrolled in the district who are motivated to encourage our schools to continue to innovate, to offer more opportunities, and to keep children the board’s first priority.

On November 5th, we will make a decision.  Will we choose based on the record, or the labels?

In the direction of decision

With early and absentee voting underway in Ohio, we are closing in on Election Day decisions that will impact our schools and community.

Today, we’ve balanced the budget by making our students the first priority, and we are paying long overdue attention to our facilities, transportation, curriculum and technology needs.

In less than two years, much has changed. Our district once seemed unable to move past the rejection of repeated new money levies. If you are tired of looking at the bleak past, so are we. But there is a slate of three candidates for the Board of Education with a retired principal and retired teacher on the ticket. They strike a nostalgic tone, but their only plan for the future is to return to the past.

Past practices encouraged division in our community and indecisiveness in our schools. For example:

  • PTOs were warned not to spend fundraising dollars on school projects.
  • The district failed to budget for buses and building maintenance.
  • There was no district plan for adopting curriculum or updating textbooks.
  • Communication with the community was cut off. There was little transparency for the taxpayer and trust deteriorated on all sides.

This is a pivotal school board election because it will set the direction – either continue in a fiscally responsible manner that makes kids’ educational needs the first priority, or return to the past with a union controlled school board. Just as has been the case in industry, unionization of public education is forcing more money into compensation and away from improving the product – highly educated children. The result is persistent requests for additional taxes as the school system’s resources are drained. Unlike many of our neighbors, for now Springboro has achieved a delicate, but sustainable, balance.. 

With more than 400 employees who have degrees and experience in education, our district hears the voice of educators and the unions. Who will be the voice of the community?

Springboro’s school board should represent the interests of the parents and the public. Parent and community representation provides a critical check and balance. David Bitner and Kolton Vaughn are both parents of children enrolled in Springboro Schools and have committed to making education their top priority. They support the “Children First” philosophy.

Educate Springboro supports a slate of three candidates,  Charles Anderson, David Bitner and Kolton Vaughn for Springboro Board of Education. David Bitner and Kolton Vaughn bring their perspective as parents, taxpayers and concerned citizens to provide more balance in board perspectives.   We are also confident that with the addition of the business acumen Charles Anderson has accumulated in his many years of service to the community, our district can continue to be sustainable. Keeping our students as the first priority, supporting our teachers, and being the voice of the community in public education is our goal. The addition of Anderson, Bitner, and Vaughn aid us all in accomplishing that goal.

Educate Springboro is also FOR the renewal. Issue 14 is a reduced renewal levy. In good faith, we’ve balanced the budget and met our obligations. When it became clear that the district could meet its needs with less money, the board voted to request lower millage in the renewal levy in November. Not only have we proven that we can live within our means, but now every stakeholder in this district—our students and families, our staff and teachers, and the taxpayers–will benefit.

Please join Educate Springboro in voting

FOR DAVID BITNER for School Board, and

FOR KOLTON VAUGHN for School Board, and

FOR CHARLES ANDERSON for School Board, and

FOR Issue 14 for our school district.

Click here to request your absentee ballot in Warren County. (http://www.co.warren.oh.us/bdelec/index.asp)

Click here to request your absentee ballot in Montgomergy County. (http://www.mcboe.org/)

This message has not approved by any candidate or candidate’s committee.

In the direction of truth

It’s October, which is an absolutely beautiful time of year. Of course there are cooler nights, falling leaves and temperate days.

And for those of us who enjoy politics and government, it is the only time of year when our communities engage in truly open debate. For those of us who like to discuss the issues, this is our time. Because it’s not just a few of us wrestling with a budget or debating the day’s headlines. Our entire community becomes engaged.

The signs are showing up on busy intersections and along well-traveled routes. Our neighbors are talking a bit more about politics—it’s less taboo than at any other time of year.

But there’s a strange thing that also happens in October. As there is more communication on the election—there seems to be less information. There are more words, but they seem to say less. As we get closer and closer to November, there is less time to check the facts. There is much being said about Springboro Schools, but how much of it is true?

Here is the truth.

  • We have achieved a balanced, children-first budget

  • We have lowered fees

  • We have implemented efficiency plans that direct savings back into our schools

  • We have hired additional teachers and aides

  • We have opened the preschool / early learning center

  • We have expanded high school A/P courses

  • We are promoting dual credit and PSEO to allows student to gain full college credits in high school

  • We have a coordinated technology plan with wireless access for every building, new laptops to every teacher and more than 1,100 new computers throughout the district.

  • We are exploring the data to understand the “proficient” standard and to set a higher bar for achievement.

These facts are indisputable. Still, we may see the truth differently.  In math, we have proofs. In science, we have theories to test. But in our schools, we see the truth as it affects our kids in the classroom, our teachers and staff whom we hired, our traditions, and our personal expectations. It is personal.

In Plato’s Allegory of the Cave, the prisoners can only see shadows. It is the only reality they know. It is theirs. It is known, comfortable, understandable and real. But when the shadows are revealed and the prisoners are asked to embrace a new reality of the light that casts the shadows, they resist it. Their truth was in the shadows that they had known for so long. This is like our definition of “proficient.” We thought proficient was good, until we learned what the raw scores are.

When someone asks you to look at things in a new way—to entertain the idea that the truth is not what you thought it was—it is normal to fight it. That is why this board made transparency and debate a cornerstone of all we do.

While the Board of Education has made missteps in the past year and a half, we made them in a transparent fashion.  This transparency allowed the community to round out our actions to reflect their wishes and desires. When we work together and talk to each other about the issues, better solutions are developed.

So, here in the month of October, let’s keep the discussion going. Let’s talk about the record. Let’s talk about the standards. Let’s talk about the facts. Let’s move together in the direction of truth. The truth is not in the online video from Olentangy United. The truth is not in rumors. The truth is not in the shadows of the past.

The truth is that we are using data to improve upon what is already a strong school district. If we only look at the shadows on the wall, we limit our own perspective, and we also limit the possibilities for Springboro students.