A (possible) school board election bid for ’08?

by EC Huey

In YES! Weekly’s crass and hurried attempt at making election endorsements, let me offer and inject, if you will, a little bit of both sanity and clarity.

Case in point, your Guilford County Board of Education endorsements in the following races: Deena Hayes (who ran unopposed in the District 8 race), Nancy Routh (who ran unopposed in the at-large seat) and your non-endorsement of neither candidate in the Garth Hebert/Debbie Maines race in North High Point’s District 2.

You wrote of Hayes: “‘…she turned her position into a full-fledged political franchise’…. Our only caveat is that sometimes she seems to care more for the spotlight than the cause.” Therein lies the problem. It is, in fact, a big problem when a school board seat is turned into a political machine when one of the lieutenants takes their marching orders from downtown instead of working for her constituents, the children of the failing school(s) she is supposed to represent and the parents of the children of the failing school(s) she supposedly represents.

YES! Weekly endorsed Hayes, but offered no endorsement in the Hebert/Maines race, a race where the progressive Hebert emerged victoriously; he almost certainly will ensure that the entire board sticks to fiscal accountability and puts children first. And you also offered an endorsement to Routh who ran unopposed simply because “no one else is masochistic enough to want the job.”

Do your homework. Do you realize what is going on in Guilford County schools? Personal and personality-driven agendas among some board members, along with administrative mismanagement are threatening the livelihood of our schools.

Instead of neighborhood schools for all children, we have legalized bussing, 1950s-style, for some children. Instead of new schools, we have trailers. Instead of real school supplies that teachers need to do their job on a daily basis, staff have orders from downtown ordering schools and departments to cut budgets. Instead of an open environment where teachers can do their jobs freely, teachers fear reprisals if they register a complaint or blow the whistle. Instead of accountability, we have mismanagement of taxpayer dollars. Instead of having some of the best schools in the state, Guilford County has some of the most failing schools in the state. Instead of schools that have adequate fire suppression in chemistry labs, we have schools that you’re lucky to find a working fire extinguisher in. Instead of spending money on basic supplies to teachers can do their jobs, money is wasted on programs that do little or no good.

When does the madness end? It has to stop! It’s not a money issue. It’s not a color issue. It’s a leadership and a management issue. And the first two things that need addressed are both leadership and the mismanagement of taxpayer money. And don’t have the nerve to ask for another bond to be passed unless both of the above items are addressed first. Otherwise, any futile attempt at another referendum will be DOA.

I look forward to the new breed of leadership that Hebert and Belton will bring to the board. And if this seems like an early announcement of some sort on my part, well, maybe it is. For it was my name that I wrote (typed) in on Tuesday’s ballot, instead of punching Routh’s name. We need real change and real solutions to real problems in Guilford County Schools. And the only way to secure that change is with a change in leadership. But I’m not holding my breath, at least not anytime soon.

The writer lives in Greensboro.