Alphina Kamara takes on DE school board elections by sharing her take on voter apathy by revealing exactly how spectacularly unsuccessful DelawareCAN’s unfortunately named “Who Runs Delaware’s Schools” campaign (School boards do not run schools, they govern. Also, individual board members are functionally powerless by design) has been. In her article she trots out Rep. Baumbach’s terrible bill, that even when modified got exactly zero votes on the floor (it was such a bad bill it didn’t even get run by the Speaker). She neglected to address the bill’s deeply flawed design to pay board members, throwing their independence into play, and only focused on the term reduction aspect claiming, without proof, that it gives voters more choice. She then accuses Paul’s fellow legislators are apathetic (“his efforts have gotten a weak response”) public servants who are embracing the status quo.
Ah, the old status quo argument…that the same argument that, if used properly, would turn the parents of this state into a pitchfork wielding mob after watching over $14 BILLION spent from 2003-2017 on testing and “support” only to get a FLAT result on NAEP despite snake oil promises from consultants, ideologues , and former DOE testing and data gurus all claiming such interventions as a magical elixir.
She then goes on to trot out the “we should move the school board election to the general” argument. It’s a fair argument, though one must know and hopefully respect that school board elections are non-partisan (no donkeys or elephants) on the ballot and conflating that sensibility with a highly charged partisan election and you thenintroduce major money and influence into a position designed to serve kids, not special interests like testing companies and curriculum companies.
The folks that turn out to May elections are arguably a hyper-focused electorate that is more likely to learn about and know the candidates than those wading through the messy primary/general process. May school board elections are for people dedicated to the cause of education and being educated about the election is part of that process. Keeping big money and party politics out of school boards is a small price to pay to keep this unpaid public servant role in our state safe from undue influence of the type that has destroyed the Delaware DOE and our General Assembly from being an effective support system for our students (funding, parent rights, choice, un-elected state baord, etc.)