The Kettering School Board Election Is A Contest Between Two Very Different Points Of View

This election, in selecting their school board members, Kettering voters have a choice. The question is, should voters return current board members who are seeking re-election — or choose the challengers? The DDN in its editorial endorsement, recommended sticking with the incumbents. Of the challengers — Jim Brown and me — the DDN said, “They have not made a strong enough case that they would be better.”

At the community meeting tomorrow, I hope to make the case — it’s all about two very different points of view.

The question is: What is the leadership that has the best chance of bringing the community to a great future?

Leadership comes from different points of view and the reason why I would be better leader for the board, I feel, is because I have a better point of view concerning the role of a board member than the view held by current board members. My point of view, I feel, has a much better chance of giving the kind of direction the district needs in order to build a good future.

In my new flyer I am distributing, I focus on the May 5 election that asked Kettering voters to approve renewing the five year 6.9 mill levy. I point out that the current board members were responsible for the misleading advertisement campaign that promised “ZERO Increase In Taxes” and “Not A Penny More.”

This levy campaign, I feel, gives a window into the thinking of the current board members.

These levy ads really angered me. In my flyer, I say they “appalled” me. It was a gut reaction. But as I talked to different people, I realized that a lot of people, to my surprise, thought these ads were OK. One man told me that he was glad the levy renewal passed, because his daughter teaches in the district. Another man told me that he didn’t agree with the way the levy was advertised, but that he voted for it, because his children attend Kettering Schools.

So, in the same way as these two people, evidently, the current board members thought the levy advertisement — “Not a Penny More” — was OK. The ad campaign, after all, succeeded in assuring the district of $8.2 million revenue each year for the next five years.

The problem is, these ads trifled with the public’s trust. Losing public trust has long term consequences. In the long run, the only factor that can possibly make a strong system of public education is if the system is supported by a strong community.

The incumbents sincerely want the school district to be strong. The incumbent point of view sees the role of board member as being mostly about marketing. The incumbents see their role as cheerleaders for the district, as fundraisers, etc. I disagree.

My point of view is that a board of education should be all about exercising “local control.” In my view, strong local control must be the foundation for public education and a board member must do everything possible, therefore, to strengthen local control. This means transparency — it means inviting the public into meaningful participation.

In the short term, the leadership provided by the incumbents seems to work. But in the long term, it is doomed to fail. And if it fails, the consequence of failure for the community will be great. The point of view I offer is a much safer bet for the long term health and strength of public education in Kettering.

So at the public meeting tomorrow, I plan on contrasting two different points of view.

The first community meeting for Kettering Board candidates is Wednesday, October 21 at the Good Shepherd Lutheran Church at Stroop and Ackerman at 7:00. All five candidates are invited and will answer questions provided by public members who are present.

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