At Kettering’s LWV Community Meeting, Incumbent School Board Members Defend “ZERO Tax Increase” Ad

Last night the five candidates seeking election to the Kettering Board of Education participated in a “Meet the Candidates” program sponsored by the League of Women Voters. I was disappointed that so few people attended — only 30 or so — only a couple of teachers, only a couple of students. The Interim Superintendent, Jim Shoenlein, attended, but he was the only administrator I recognized.

The poor attendance for the event, to me, says a lot. I quoted David Matthews, again, that in order to have a strong system of public education, we need a strong democracy. Matthews has an insight that needs to be hammered and hammered. In order to make improvements in our country we need to make improvement in our democracy. When we are looking for an explanation as to why so many things in our whole country are so dysfunctional — so far inferior to what they should be — the answer is found in the system itself. We are experiencing system failure. Our democracy is failing.

I’m wondering if the poor attendance on the part of the school community was an unofficial boycott. Had the powers that be encouraged more of their teachers and administrators to attend, I’m sure many more would have attended. Kettering Schools, after all, has over 1500 employees.

I find it strange that the government teacher at the high school did not include in his or her education plan a goal of understanding the issues concerning the board of education election. The event was held six blocks from the high school. Why such a lack of interest?

The lack of interest by the government teachers is an indictment of Kettering Schools. The lack of interest by Kettering citizens in general — most who are graduates of the Kettering School system — is an indictment of the Kettering Schools. When we look for reasons why are we turning out citizens who have such disinterest in wanting to participate in their own community, I think it is fair to blame the community’s system of public education.

In my concluding comments, I again bring up the fact that the incumbent board members approved an advertisement campaign for the last tax levy election that promised “ZERO Increase In Taxes,” and “Not a Penny More.” The whole point of my campaign literature is to show that these statements were misleading and were meant to be misleading. During the evening’s discussion, the incumbents defended the advertisements, saying they felt in the levy ads they had done the right thing. I found their attitude surprising. Their defense of these advertisements shows a point of view that is strikingly different from my point of view. I said that the point of view of the incumbents is to see their role as board members as being cheerleaders for the schools. In contrast, I said my point of view I believe the role board member should seek to fulfill is one that centers on the community, centers on making “local control” meaningful, centers on representing the public, centers on vitalizing democracy within the community.

I’m going to put together a longer video showing more of the evening — but this conclusion sums up a lot of what I wanted to say.

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