Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Say What You Mean, and Mean What You Say

The article in the Swanton Enterprise about the recent 4-1 vote by the Board to accept the proposed contract agreement with the teachers' union (SEA) has generated a few comments and concerns - but not to me.

I have learned that several people have called OTHERS to ask what was meant by my comments, quoted in the article - but no one has called me, nor has anyone written an email to me or comment on this blog to ask.

First of all, it bears repeating:  my blog (and my opinions given therein) is mine alone.  No other board member weighs in on what I write.  No other resident - with or without kids in the system - tells me what to say.  If no one provides a comment on what I've said, there is really no way to know what anyone else is thinking out there in our district.  Too many people are afraid to go on record with their opinions, and that is their choice.  I have no personal axes to grind, nor do I have kids in the system to be concerned about potential retribution, covert or otherwise. 

I try to call 'em as I see 'em.  Sometimes people agree with me.  Sometimes they don't.  Sometimes I hear from somebody with a different view that helps to broaden my perspective, and I try to be honest in sharing that - as I also try to be honest about when I am just plain WRONG on something.  It does happen!

But I'm not sure if I've been clear about my purpose with this blog.  Let me do that now.

When I ran for this school board position, people told me that they simply didn't know what was going on at the board level.  Those with kids knew some things, those without kids knew nothing.  If a person was unable to attend the public school board meetings, they frequently had no clue what issues were before the board and how the board chose to address them. 

It is my deeply held conviction that an informed populace is best equipped to make decisions on things that directly affect their wallets.  That would appear to be a common sense approach, but life has shown me that good sense is anything but common. . .

Anyway, blogging about school board happenings after I was elected was a way for me to get information out to anyone interested enough to read it, and also to give my personal opinions on the issues.  I have tried to be careful in reminding people that these are ONLY my opinions - no one elses!  On this blog, I only speak as one person, and not as a representative of the school board. 

I'll say it again:  I have no personal axe(s) to grind with anyone in our school district.  I try to be careful in sharing facts, and sharing my opinion about those facts politely.  I also do my best to base my opinions on the facts and not on emotional responses to those facts.

In that regard, I am a real tomboy.  I think it's fair to say that the female gender, as a general rule, reacts with emotion, while males generally stick to the facts alone.  Now don't anyone get their undies in a bunch and twist what I just said into a derogatory smear against either gender!!  Of course men have emotions - of course women can reason.  But if you're honest, you'll admit that - IN GENERAL - women are emotional creatures and men are less so.  I tend to stick to the facts, like a guy would.  I prefer to base my opinion and my vote on the facts, and not on feelings.

That means that sometimes I find it necessary to take a stand that isn't popular.  I do not do so because I am insensitive to others' feelings - but facts are facts, doggone it. I was elected to this position to make decisions based on what is best for the district, not based on whether or not it might hurt somebody's feelings.  That is what I try to do. 

I tend to be a hard nose - I admit it!!  I am also tight with a buck - I admit it!! 

But I also do my level best to say what I mean, and mean what I say.  You don't need to wonder if I said this but really meant that - I don't operate that way.  I won't tell one person one thing and then turn around and tell another something entirely different, like I witnessed one board member do at the School Board Lynching Party that was held up at the Park a couple years ago.  If I don't understand the entire scope of an issue, I will reserve opinion until I do - but I won't ride any fences just so everybody will like me.

I was not elected to this position to get everyone to like me - I was elected to be a good steward of tax dollars while doing all in my power to improve the education of our kids.  That is what I have tried to do, since January 2008. 

I am still learning, obviously.  There is a lot to learn!  I don't deliberately try to upset people, though I do feel bad when it happens.  But that won't affect my vote.  Only if I have misunderstood something, or new information comes to light, will you see me change my mind - because I will do my best to act based on facts.

And if I write something here that you question, ask me.  Call me - email me - write a comment here - whatever.  You might have access to information that I don't have, and knowing what you know can help me do a better job on the board.   

It is possible for reasonable people to disagree on the best approach to a particular issue before us.  We should be able to disagree in an agreeable manner, without name-calling and attempts at brow-beating those who don't share our opinion. 

That is what I try to do.  We are all on the same team, whether we are friends with everyone or not.  Sometimes difficult decisions need to be made that will make some unhappy - yet, these decisions still must be made for the ultimate benefit of our kids. 

Please don't try to guess what I may have "meant" - if you wonder, ask me!  I will do my best to answer clearly, until you understand - even if we don't ultimately agree.

One more thing:  in the capacity of being a board member, when issues do come to a vote, I only have one vote to cast.  That's it.  Each board member is responsible for his/her vote - but once the vote is taken and the total tallied up, the majority vote "rules". 

The former board with whom I served my first 2 years had many more unanimous votes than not.  But those times when there was a 3-2 split in the vote, the majority won and all of us - the entire district - had to move forward with that decision, good or bad. 

That's how these things work.

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