A disappointment for students | VailDaily.com

A disappointment for students

Elizabeth Chicoine

The Vail Daily reported Aug. 27 that the Eagle County School Board would possibly cancel its spot on the county’s November ballot. No seats appeared to be contested, and the Daily reported “the board will ask for applications from Edwards residents to fill (Carrie) Tedstrom’s seat and will then appoint someone.”Oh my. A friendly call to the Eagle County Clerk and Recorder’s Office this week confirmed that the school board did cancel its spot on the ballot. We do have a problem in Eagle County public schools. I see it as embers in a fire about to burn. Lack of involvement. A good, robust discussion about parents knowing more and about educating themselves on what is happening in our district needs to occur. Yes, we all are busy. (Vail Valley parents are akin to penguins, remember?) Adversity is a part of our hard wiring. Do you remember the 14th Amendment? It cites equal protection. Let us not lose the ground our forefathers dug for education. Don’t our children deserve equal protection in regard to representation? Certainly, a board appointment dilutes this notion.Among my favorite educational journals is Educational Leadership. The December 01/January 02 edition contained a quote that was leery of our recent predicament. An article headed “Decisions That Have Shaped U.S. Education,” said, “Today, the clear unconstitutionality of segregation by law or policy reminds us of the significant impact of the Brown decision, but the intractability of de facto segregation also reveals the court’s limited influence in bringing about social and school reform.” Social and school reforms can sometimes be efforts that the public is quick to resist. By the nature of public schools, most of us at one time have been schooled. We have notions and memories of how it was for us. These can be good and bad memories.But uniquely, this commonality should be a plus. We have all, as U.S. citizens, endured schooling. Therefore, this is one subject that can bring on much input. We all have experience. Your voice matters. Resist, agree, but please get involved. Do care!Hence, by common sense, shouldn’t some of us have been interested in running for our local school board? All of you reading this column today have value. If you cared enough to read this headline, please consider applying for the vacating seat. Or plan ahead to run for the board in 2007.I have a call into the district office to get information to help parents in learning more about how the application-appointment process will work. Get on board, every citizen, and learn more yourselves, too. The idea of appointments flies in the face of our 14th Amendment. It cannot be equal in regard to protection. It already appears to be hand-picked.For example, a present board member who will no doubt be among the “pickers” who will cast a vote to appoint the next member was quoted in the same Vail Daily article as saying, “I hope to have someone whose kids are in public schools.” Is she saying please protect us from a possible dissenting voice? Assumptions can fly about why a parent chooses an alternative school for their child. That is a private matter. But the calling of the parent to support public schools should still be honored by law and by elected officials. Eagle county schools would do well to hire a public relations director to “school” their elected officials. Especially when they are quoted in our paper. They should be declaring, We want your vote, everyone’s involvement. We want retired people, single people, parents, each of you to be concerned with our schools. We want the uniqueness of our ski valley to be a benefit to our children. We welcome your care and involvement.But please, let’s learn from our mistakes. In 2007, the next time that an election will be held for school board members, let’s have several people petitioning to be elected. It was explained to me that school board elections are non-partisan and are therefore held on odd years. We DO NOT want future school boards with appointed members. This is America. We want public school board positions to be elected. Lastly, I might add a psychological game of word association. Try it. What word do you first think of when you hear “conflict?” My gut said, “resolution.” Some people I saw today declared the same, and others offered “pain, stress,” etc. I have been raised to believe that if you have a grievance with someone who wronged you, go to him/her. Let us get together as a valley and be representatives for our children. Be a “go to” person. If past memories of schooling are not good, be a candidate for change. Don’t stand by without sharing your insight.Plainly, I disagree with one board member’s view of selected candidates. But now it is time for each of us do our civic job. Get involved. Be the person who goes forward. Talk with another. Stand up for your beliefs about education and reform. Join and strive to change what seems wrong. The electoral process depends on this risk. Care. Commit. Believe. Give of yourself to protect what is, by matter of law, the right to discuss social and school reform. Unknowingly, people with your fundamental beliefs will be standing quietly beside you. Although I prefer the electoral process, I offer support to the process of appointing our next school board member. Let’s appreciate our present school board members and encourage them to keep an open mind regarding the applicants.Elizabeth H. Chicoine of Eagle writes a weekly column for the Daily. She can be reached at echicoine@centurytel.net. This column, as with all personal columns, does not necessarily reflect the views of the Vail Daily.Vail, Colorado