10% Turnout Invites Takeover

After last month's round of local school board elections, there have been numerous editorial comments and letters relating what happened. Here is another point of view with, perhaps, a broader perspective.

The election of teachers to serve on school boards has brought reactions ranging from the "fox-in-the-henhouse" concept to "the community has expressed its confidence in educators serving as policy makers."

As a superintendent for the past 20 years, my concern does not focus on whether or not teachers serve on school boards. My concern is with the community apathy that allows 10% of the voters to decide who will provide the leadership for its most important local institution.

A voter turnout of 10% allows any organized group to dominate an election. When this happens we are in danger of allowing the governance of our public schools to fall into the hands of extremist groups that can promote a point of view that would never be accepted by the majority of the community.

My experience has taught me that teachers serving as school board members do not pose a threat to the direction our public schools take.

However, any time a community leaves the governance of an institution as important as our public schools wide open to the whim of 10% of the voters, we are asking for trouble. It does not take much of a voting block for any group to pull off a school board takeover.

The problem is not whether teachers should serve on school boards. The real problem is the apathy toward the welfare of our public schools that has existed for years in Sacramento and now appears to extend through the local community. A 10% voter turnout leaves any political office open for an extremist takeover.



Ocean View School District

Huntington Beach

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