School Board President Gets Schooled
Affeldt's Fake MandateOpinion
|School Board President John Affeldt|
Less than 50% of Emeryville voters
cast their ballot for him.
He considers that a mandate for the
ECCL that he can use
This kind of blinkered bullying has left us baffled (even though he later apologized for the conjuring up of Ms Antoinette); what would drive a public school board president, hired to listen to parents and citizen's concerns, to be so harshly dismissive and unwilling to countenance differing views, especially by those of parents?
A recent missive, penned by President Affeldt in the form of a comment to a critical story about the Center of 'Community' Life in a Columbia University Education website, the Hechinger Report, sheds much light on Mr Affeldt's perplexingly tyrannical tenure as Board President. As he discredits critics as "the vocal minority", it would appear, John Affeldt has taken much by way of a demand for public deference owing to what he sees as a mandate by the Emeryville electorate.
Mr Affeldt's written comment to the Hechinger Report reveals a lot; he makes some bold claims about public support for the Center of 'Community' Life and even more hyperbolic claims about his campaign support. The Hechinger report moderator and engagement editor corrects the erroneous claims made by Mr Affeldt, and we take him on over his talk of a mandate:
From the Hechinger Report comment section on the story on the ECCL:
But that is not the only piece of misinformation from President Affeldt's comment. If we look at his platform from his ballot statement as he ran for School Board:
“My education and qualifications are: I am Vice-President of the Emery Unified School District Board. My son is beginning his fourth year at Anna Yates where I was vice-chair of the School Site Council before joining the Board in 2012. After graduating with honors from Stanford undergrad and Harvard Law School, I became an attorney at Public Advocates. For 23 years there, I have worked to improve educational opportunities for low-income students and students of color in California. I have twice been recognized by statewide publications as an Attorney of the Year (2005 & 2010) for this work. As a lead counsel on one landmark case, I helped negotiate a 2004 settlement with the State guaranteeing California’s students sufficient instructional materials, decent facilities and qualified teachers, particularly for English learners, securing over $1 billion to support these requirements. I am currently lead counsel on another case, challenging the State for grossly underfunding California schools. On the Board, I have worked to improve public accountability, parent and student engagement, and communication with teacher leadership. We are building a new full service community school to integrate education, health, and community services that stands to serve as a national model. I ask for your support in continuing this important work.”
The Center of 'Community' Life is not a key platform in his campaign. He does not mention the ECCL by name, nor does talk about closing Anna Yates Elementary School. He talks about a community school and national models, but that is after talking about accountability, communication, and engagement. How has he done on that front? He gets an 'F' at our school.
Let’s look at the 97% mandate that he claims the election gave him. Donn Merriam, who did run on an ECCL platform, received 730 votes, only 30 more than former Board incumbent Miguel Dwin, the strongest proponent of the ECCL. John Affeldt on the other hand received 1,255 votes* or 97% of the possible 1286 possible votes. But why 1286? In Emeryville, 2,524 people voted* for gubernatorial candidate. For the school bond measure, 2,279 people voted*. This means that less than 50% of the people that voted cast their ballot for John Affeldt. Even if we just look at the number of people that voted for education issues (the parcel tax), Mr Affeldt received 55% of the vote. Donn Merriam, again who campaigned as a proponent of the ECCL, received less than a third of the vote. Miguel Dwin, the loser, even fewer.
The election was not mandate for the ECCL (or for Mr Affeldt), but a reflection of the community’s tepid interest in the schools of Emeryville. The ECCL is over budget, late and just as unpopular as ever. If Mr Affeldt had ever shown any interest, even intellectual curiosity about public opinion over the ECCL instead of using his position to quash dissent, he might have been more aware and he might not have issued such impolitic and harsh rebukes against the public he would have to later apologize for. Gall is a word that is apropos at this point.
*from the Alameda County Registrar of Voters.