It's really not that easy to get a sense of people from the sound bites they issue. I have to assume that the three candidates that haven't served on the board have no clue what they're getting into, and that the three who been around the District are good at saying what they think people want to hear. All in all, though, I've made my choices and offer my thinking:
Candidates I don't support
- Michael Swigart. Mike's very forthright, and I really appreciate understanding his positions. I trust him to say what he's actually going to do, and his plans involve increasing class size, which I believe is the wrong approach. Cutting teachers is not the way to cut the fat from the budget. Mike is also a fan of building new, and I believe he's probably going to redouble the efforts to do so. The renovation project did go through as it was proposed, but keeping the middle school where it is continues to be a big priority for a lot of people. He was a lone voice calling for a full district building analysis for a long time, and this is an idea which is gaining ground.
- Edgar Rodriguez, and not because his lawsuit. Edgar is promoting this idea of dropping twelfth grade, when finding ways to educate our kids better in the time we have makes more sense than just booting them out earlier. I'm actually a big supporter of kids leaving school when they've gotten all the education they can handle, but this idea abdicates the responsibility we have towards education.
Candidates I do support
- MaryAnn Tozzi, who will bring the blue-collar perspective that the Board needs. She's got a kid in the district but also has a tax bill to pay.
- Dominick Profaci, who is the only candidate in a long time to point out what the real problem is - tying school funding to property values. He believes the BOE should be trying to change that, and I couldn't agree more. We don't need property tax reform, though, we need property tax abolition. Our present system punishes people for wanting to stay in the homes and pits lifelong residents against their grandchildren in a struggle over limited resources. There's got to be a better way.
The other two candidates simply didn't move either way. Juliet Coxum's reported desire to have the board set up "ad hoc community committees with community members to help them make decisions that affect the schools" sounds like a lot of bureaucratic busywork to me. Bob Rich has a track record in building consensus for capital projects. Neither one elicits a strong opinion from me, though.