Q: Why are Coastside school board elections so vicious?  A: Because the stakes are so small.


By on Wed, November 8, 2006

I’m deeply disturbed by the take-no-prisoners approach to campaigning we’ve seen in our school board elections lately.

What are the stakes? The school board can’t raise taxes and is unlikely to do any more building any time soon. They have zero control of district student demographics and pretty marginal control over test scores. They have no ambition to operate buses. The schools are crumbling and dirty. The board is dependent on handouts from millionaires for discretionary funds, parcel tax campaigns, and political contributions.

The bright spots in our district—the teachers and parents—carry on admirably in the midst of the chaos.

I’m sure the candidates are ambitious to help our kids. But why step on anyone or be less than perfectly candid with your friends and neighbors to get a seat on the board?  But, then, I have no idea why anyone would subject themselves to the kind of smears mounted against people who run against the incumbents in our school board elections.

Sure, there’s a legacy of bitterness. But we all won—and we all lost—the middle school battle long ago.  The newer-is-better crowd got to control the school board, but can’t build at Wavecrest. And the less-is-more crowd got a middle school at Cunha, but can’t even get a neutral candidate on the board. And nobody got a parcel tax.

Our kids are already several steps behind the starting line because they go to school in California and because they’re unfortunate enough to live in a nation where the adults pretend that slogans like No Child Left Behind are education policy.

Some of us are better prepared than others to raise children in this hostile environment. None of us should have to do it without the full support of the community.

I could be wrong, but I don’t think it’s necessary to turn our school district into a steel-cage death match to get things done.