"But if it is believed that these elementary schools will be better managed by...any other general authority of the government, than by the parents within each ward [district], it is a belief against all experience." --Thomas Jefferson

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Primary Thoughts

Thank YOU for your support. We will proceed to the general election. I have benefitted from your ideas and energy. The win is a result of what I would like to see for the Alpine School District: greater family involvement, transparency and communication.

The last week was a lot of fun and I wanted to share it with you. We had a great group of volunteers taking lawn signs out. We had people emailing us questions and many who just wanted to share their words of support.

The Daily Herald had an article on Sunday which mischaracterized who I am. They described me as a "home-schooling mother." While it is factually true that I have home schooled my children (and am proud of that fact), the article failed to mention I have two children enrolled in local district schools. The article left the false impression that my kids have only been home-schooled.

The reporter emailed us Friday afternoon, and we responded as soon as we saw the email Saturday. The article had already been written and the reporter reports he simply used the information available on our website. Of course, the first page of our website contains all the information about my experience in the PTA, founding a charter school, kids enrolled in district schools and yes...home schooling. Somehow only the charter school and home schooling experience got ink.

We designed our campaign as something of an example of how we would like to see the Alpine School District/Board communicate. You can usually tell a lot about a candidate by how they campaign.

We use a website to give quick access to the most important questions people might have about me. It quickly answers who I am, what I believe needs to be changed, and how do people contact me. It also gives people access to the blog and Facebook page.

This blog gives me the opportunity to go into detail about different things. It is an invaluable tool to get into greater depth on the most important issues.

Facebook is used as a dialogue with anyone who wants to join the conversation. Everyone is welcome to comment and read our responses.

Our marketing pieces (lawnsigns, direct mail, etc.) all point people to our website and welcome them to join the conversation. We are sharing our learning experiences, and asking for your help by participating in the process. I represent you. You are needed to make the district a better district.

That is exactly what the Alpine School District needs to do. Welcome the input of families, staff, and even people who may not agree with them. Participation makes an organization stronger. But it has to actually be encouraged. Currently, the school board does not operate with an open and welcoming attitude. Families do not have open access to the ideas and thinking of the board. Communication is carefully filtered through community councils and limited to a few minutes in board meetings. That's a shame. Our district would benefit from the great assets of the families, teachers and district employees.

But first, it must admit it is not as good as it could be. This election is a competition of ideas. The incumbent represents the status quo. We admit, the way things have been working is pretty good. Our point is that given the families, teachers and principles we have, there is no reason the Alpine School District shouldn't be great. To get to "great" requires full involvement from everyone. To actually get that involvement requires the administration to change the culture from being closed and defensive to being open and welcoming.

My opponent did not have a website during the campaign. My guess is within weeks you will see her launch her first website. That will be a positive change. I hope other board members who aren't running for re-election will also embrace open communication and transparency. Your voice was heard and your vote will have the attention of the board.

Going forward I will need your continued support. Your ideas really are the cornerstone of my campaign. Unseating an incumbent is never easy. In this case, she has the full support of the powers that have a vested interest in the status quo. Returning to core academics, opening up the board to the light of day, greater local site control are not popular ideas on the district level. They are popular ideas with families and teachers within the district. With your help, we will change the district so your ideas are as important as the administration's ideas.

1 comment:

  1. Wendy - congratulations on making it through the primaries! Your website is engaging and user-friendly, and has a great feel to it. Your message is clear - and is one that is being stated by most of those who are running against the incumbents in the district; more transparency; a need for a better working relationship between the board and parents; a need for parents to feel their voice and help is important; a desire to have world-class education here in ASD. Here's hoping that concerned parents in your district take the time to research what's needed in the district to get it to that GREAT level you are working towards. The best of luck in your campaign!

    Judy Cox
    Scott Bell for ASD Board Campaign
    Committee Member