As of 10 PM EST the Dayton Daily News reports that Springboro voters have elected Charles Anderson, Dr. Ron Malone, and David Stuckey to replace the outgoing members of the School Board. In addition, voters passed the renewal levy by over 3 to 1, pointing to the fact that residents of the Springboro are ready for the changing of the guard.
Over the last few years the actions of the School Board have caused quite a stir in the community, including a contentious dispute over the collective bargaining rights of the teachers union, the introduction of Creationism, along with a host of other “controversial issues.” Judging from the results of the election, it is evident that the Board overreached in its goals to make public education more affordable, as voters rejected David Bitner and Kolton Vaughn who previously pledged to continue pursing the Students First agenda.
David Petroni and Jim Rigano, both strong proponents of Students First and co-bloggers at Educate Springboro, will remain seated on the Board. The inclusion of Stuckey and Malone with the business experience of Anderson has the potential to restore balance to our community while focusing on the merits of Students First, assuming the Board can find a way to include the disparate voices in our conversation about education in the 21st century.
In the early days of our nation, the majority of Americans received their education at home. Teaching was done by the parents or a private tutor if they were fortunate enough to afford one. The Puritans were the first to identify the need for a public education and established schools across New England. After the American Revolution, Thomas Jefferson argued to build an educational system funded by taxpayer dollars, but it wasn’t until 1852 when the first compulsory education laws were passed in Massachusetts, which by 1918 lead to every American child being required to attend public schools.
The responsibility of governing public schools was separated from the city council early on in the history of education. As the demand for public education began to increase, selectmen separated educational governance from city governance and appointed committees in each town to govern local school systems. In 1837, Massachusetts established the first State Board of Education, though the authority remained at the local level as many were distrustful of the state’s ability to represent local interests. The Massachusetts model of governing education spread throughout the colonies and its separation from city council has persisted into the present day.
On the surface this would seem to be an ideal model for many of the challenges we face as a nation (including the compulsory healthcare laws which coincidentally originated in Massachusetts). A National Network of State Boards of Education whose authority rests in the hands of local School Boards elected by the community. But when you dig a little deeper into the disconnect between the city and the schools, you see more than a separation of governance. You see the silos which Lori Kershner identified on her website which calls for “better cooperation between the city and the schools.”
I moved to Clearcreek Township with my wife and daughter in the winter of 2008 in order to be closer to the Cincinnati job market. We lived in a small house on my wife’s grandfather’s farm so that she could help take care of him in his later years, while my daughter enrolled to attend Springboro Schools the following year. I didn’t have much interest in local politics until the 2010 election when I started noticing Tea Party symbols appearing on all the yard signs.
Much of what I was reading appeared to demonize the government on all levels, but living property tax-free on grandpa’s farm left me feeling like an outsider without any skin in the game. We decided to move into the city of Springboro to not only earn the right to vote, but to experience first-hand how local government works in a small town. That same year, Kelly Kohls started touring on the FreedomWorks circuit, building the foundation for the Ohio School Board Legislative Council, and our small town lives started looking less like Springboro and more like the conversation on the national stage.
In subsequent years the situation seems to have gotten worse, once again reflecting the sharp divide our country is experiencing between rural and urban areas as the residents of Clearcreek Township grow increasingly weary of outsiders such as myself raising taxes to support local schools and services. You can only imagine the joy I experienced after reading Lori Kersher’s first priority to cut costs by sharing services between the city and the township. It was like witnessing the rift in our community being sealed with a solution that equally serves both sides of the divide.
Like many of you I suffer from a condition known as interested-in-politics-itis. Over the years, my condition has made it increasingly more difficult to talk with friends and family, as the aptly-named elephant in the room looms over every movie critique and choice of beverage. It has reached the point where interacting with my neighbors is a brief affair out of fear they might perceive me to be a member of the opposing team.
As the name of this blog implies, I have sought to remedy my situation by focusing on open government. This has not been an easy solution as its visionary ideals fail to resonate with those of us living in the Age of Networked Information. We don’t think about our Government in terms of information and networks, but as a competition between two warring factions which generally fail to represent our own personal interests.
When I first learned of Lori Kershner and her campaign for Ward 1 of the Springboro City Council, I must admit that I looked at her through the lens of competition and perceived her to be slightly right of center. But after reading her views “On the Issues,” I saw something that I haven’t seen in any other election. Not a fight between who’s wrong and who’s right, but a strategic plan of action which focuses on cooperation and community building.