Hasan: Get active, run for school board
Vail CO, Colorado
My dearest Eagle Countians ” I write today asking you to consider a run for our school board. In making this call though, please read more about the journey that has brought me to this point.
I have never felt better or more proud of our county than I do right now. As many have followed, I called out our school district around a month ago and used my column to jump-start the debate over the Teacher Advancement Program (TAP). My initial goal was a simple one ” get TAP repealed and abolished; but little did I know that this journey would be a deeply fulfilling one.
I hosted a very positive meeting with teachers and parents who were also frustrated with TAP. Although I did my best to look like a leader full of confidence, I had to spend most of energy hiding my fright. Community activism, I thought, is an activity that ought to be easy. After all, I succeeded at public school tyro-teaching, at Hollywood filmmaking, and national political commentary; how hard could community activism and organizing be?
Yet, as I looked into the eyes of every teacher there, I saw that special light inside their soul that was filled with joy. The joy one gets when your cry for help is finally answered. While joy filled their eyes, fear filled mine. The most intimidating thing about responsibility is when you see it within the light of someone’s hopeful eyes. “Suck it up, Muhammad,” I said to myself, drawing the backbone to reduce my fear, listen to their concerns, and assist in the best course of action.
In changing TAP, the teachers and parents recommended a positive course of action that would accommodate for free thought, not strong-arm tactics that could alienate many. Unlike me, they could put emotion aside and speak from intellect, knowing that this path would be best for our county. Their ability to handle this issue with such thoughtfulness and concern for our community literally turned my brown eyes blue.
What I learned from them were the different ways this problem could be handled. We could change our program to reflect that of Douglas County’s, where TAP is used in conjunction with a salary program that considers a teacher’s education and experience. In turn, teachers could receive raises in pay based upon tenure, giving them the motivation to continue teaching, while at the same time, the incentive of making extra money through a TAP system, based on the improvement classroom test scores. However, the school district should use TAP to replace the other salary program.
In addition, having teachers work together is not a bad thing, but it could be done in an environment where some teachers are not designated as “masters,” with others subtley considered “inferior.” And if teachers are to be evaluated, then such task should be handled by administrative staff, not fellow teachers, thus avoiding the bad environment that can come from peer-to-peer assessment.
We can repeal TAP, empower it, or keep it as is. What we need most though is an honest and calm dialogue, where the construction of a solid public school system could be fully realized.
With that said, there will be many school board seats available for election. I am asking each of you to strongly consider running for a seat in your district. The new school board will take on the responsibility of creating new policies, reviewing old ones, and setting up the proper structure for school operation. Do not be detracted by those who say that the job is too hard because of the difficult debates and toxic environments. I, along with many other residents, will hold our school board accountable in making sure that all discussion is thoughtful and calm. And do not look down on the fact that the position offers no financial reward; consider the reward of personal fulfillment.
I will not be running for this board. I have volunteered my free time to the Eagle County Republican Party and Young Republicans, and I want to finish what I’ve started. My work here though is not for the benefit of Republicans, rather, it is for the benefit of our entire county. I deeply believe that both main parties, Democrat and Republican, should be strong. Without strength in both parties, we lack checks and balances of each other and strong accountability.
And without strong county parties, we lack the positive environment of political dialogue, reducing our chances of giving our local democracy its best chance to truly represent the voices of the people.
It would not be difficult for one to find a position in the Mitt Romney, Rudy Giuliani, or Fred Thompson campaign, but national politics is of little importance right now. What matters now is the political health of my good county, that I love deeply and desire to see bettered. But I’m itching to better our educational environment.
And I refuse to believe that our county is deficient in good souls. Since purchasing our home here in 1991, this county has gone out of its way to shower love upon my family and I, so the county’s health is of priority to us.
Thus, my fellow Eagle Countians ” consider running for the school board and read about its details. If you want to run, then email me. Time is of the essence. With applications due by the end of August, every potential candidate must have 50 voter signatures. I offer my help in assisting potential candidates for the purpose of gathering signatures, and I’m happy to offer any personal feedback on the issues, itself.
Most importantly, I know of many other people who are ready to sign petitions, based on feedback from past articles. Contact should be made to me no later than Aug. 25 and please e-mail any questions.
I am not looking to position myself as a powerbroker in school board politics; but I want to do my best to get our best citizens onto a board that will determine great decision-making within our good county.
The missing pieces are thoughtful people, who love our county. The missing piece might just be you.
Muhammad Ali Hasan of Beaver Creek writes a biweekly column for the Vail Daily.
He can be reached at email@example.com.