Today is the first day of early voting. I'm contemplating the steady bursts of BOE endorsements I've been seeing lately on social media. When I consider how long I've been agitating to get people excited about the BOE race, seeing all the buzz around candidates is gratifying. Finally, people are talking about the issues that are making a huge difference to our students, families and teachers.
Despite my wish that the BOE race be respected as a non-partisan one, there are still plenty of folks making their choice along party lines. Strictly speaking, Dems with good sense are bypassing the incumbent and choosing the three other Democratic candidates. On the other hand, I've seen some Republicans recommending only the two R's. I don't know what the strategy is there, but in a race this important I wouldn't want to throw away even one chance at making a better board of education.
I worry that a decision based solely on party lines shows less of a stand on values and more of a fear of "the other side." When it comes to our children, I wish we could be more broadminded for their sakes. Are we brave enough to allow diversity of opinion on a board that will be responsible for guiding a diverse student population?
And then, of course, there are those who fear change in any form and I guess they should write in the incumbent's name three times, though I doubt that will do any good.
HCEA has recommended candidates, The People's Voice has suggestions, too. Other endorsements are in the offing, I suppose. A good deal of research goes into those choices and I don't knock those organizations. But my advice is pretty simple: pick the candidates that will absolutely assure that Janet Siddiqui will not return to the board. Period.
Does anyone really know how to calculate that? No. They may have theories, and they may have convinced themselves, but no one can truly know that in advance. So you must do your best work. I have faith in you to choose wisely.
I leave you with my two cents. I've been looking at the candidates in light of the outstanding job Cindy Vaillancourt has done on the board. She is smart, thoughtful, responsive to parents and teachers. She is open to new ideas. Even in the face of outrageous personal attacks by other board members, she has persevered in her work. When they have gone low, she has stayed high. She has never lost her focus on students, teachers, and families.
Of all of the candidates running for the board, the one who exemplifies these characteristics most is Vicky Cutroneo.
- Open to new ideas
- Positive in the face of campaign nastiness
- Continually working to learn more and build positive relationships
Something else Ms, Vaillancourt and Ms. Cutroneo share: a highly developed sense of humor. Although not necessarily a qualification for the job, it certainly helps.
I can't adequately describe my excitement as we near an election which can mean significant, positive change in our schools. Please be a part of that change. Talk to friends, neighbors, colleagues.