Another Uncontested Election:
Missing At Emery School District: Democracy
Appointed School Board member Pat Hooper has resigned and now Emeryville's got a new School Board member! Quick, who is it?
Too bad no one knows or even seems to care. Yes, another election comes and goes here in Emeryville with nary a school board candidate in sight. We must say, this is not a healthy way to run a school district; indeed, it's inviting disaster.
Not that any of this is news. Given the sorry history of School Board selection in our town, unfortunately it would be considered newsworthy if there were an election. Emeryville has a long history of appointments and top down selection of School Board members. It hasn't worked out well for education of children.
Non-elections are the norm but several years ago, we did have a real election for the School Board; it came only in response to the former Board unanimously hiring the criminal previous chief of Compton Unified School District, JL Handy, to serve as new Superintendent. Older residents will remember how Dr Handy emptied our coffers and split town, leaving the school district broke and in shambles, the District Attorney in hot pursuit. It was only after the JL Handy fiasco, after the State of California took over control of the School District, was there a real election for School Board members. Unfortunately, after that consequential shake up and ousting of those responsible, again Emeryville has settled back into the old pattern; the lack of elections is once more standard operating procedure.
One other minor hiccup in this culture was two years ago when two parents had the temerity to run for school board without the sanction of the Powers That Be at the School District and City Hall. The status quo at the School Board out-spent the two presumptuous interlopers by more than 100-to-one on slick city-wide campaign mailers, proving once again the corrupting power of money in ruining elections by effectively quashing dissent.
After last Tuesday's non-election, it would appear the School District is now free to spend hundreds of millions of dollars of the taxpayers money for a new school all with unchallenged incumbents, appointed and top down selected decision makers.
This school district has seen more than 30 years of appointments and top down selections of our School Board. The results have been devastating for the educational prospects for the children. It pains us to see this terrible tradition continue on. There's nothing like the cleansing effect of real democracy in action to cast out corrupting influences and ensure good public policy. The anti-democratic impulse here may help the Power Elite but it's anathema for establishing a culture of educational excellence at our schools. To use a cliche; our children deserve better than this.
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The new School Board Member is one Joy Kent, who ran unopposed on Tuesday and didn't appear on the ballots. Ms Kent will help sheperd the taxpayer's school bond money to build a new school.