Local Commentary

The Little City Weed

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The opposition majority city council received a political beat down when members of the school board forcefully declined a request from the mayor to agree in advance to defund the next city school budget

 

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The opposition majority city council received a political beat down when members of the school board forcefully declined a request from the mayor to agree in advance to defund the next city school budget. The public mauling was richly deserved, and, candidly, fun to watch; but the unfortunate reality is the city has been lured into a political trap it will not be able to escape without some pain.

It is hard to pity the group on council which has remained stubbornly situationaly unaware and set in its determination to reject a status quos it does not understand except through the dark lenses provided by opponents of progressive government.

Council members Baroukh, Kaylin and Barry were new and/or uninvolved city residents groomed to run for council as candidates independent from the status quos. They have been screed-fed from political birth by political bosses. Their owners have whispered sweet assurances about how smart they are, how incompetent their predecessors have been, how they have been specially called to rescue the community from a mediocre school system.

Baroukh has been consistent in his view on this point; even as a candidate he warned city schools are “overcrowded,” “declining in educational standards” and said he would not vote to fund a school a system he felt “was not headed in the right direction.” (FCNP Baroukh LTE March 27, 2008).

The new council has rejected, too often personally and cruelly, city leaders who have worked diligently to secure funding for schools through a strategy of balanced development, creating vibrancy by diversity in housing stock, and by advancing policies which invite more citizens to vote.

The message from the new council is blunt. It has declared an unprecedented financial emergency, proclaimed itself the only source qualified to assess risk, and demanded control over city government so it can proceed with resetting the priorities of our community.

It is a message which is intentionally antithetical to the status quos deliberative nature of our community.

Fortunately, school officials are not so easily bullied. The school board has seen through the attempts of council to use self-serving financial models to justify defunding schools. The school board has resisted the attempts of council to have control over school budget line items. And the school board has refused to allow the council to short circuit its proven budget process and replace it with the self-proclaimed genius of individual council members.

Our school community is trying to deliver a message to city council which council has so far refused to hear – there is value in our community status quos.

The tradition of an independent schools helps ensure the best school initiatives get funded. Not giving council control over schools helps prevent individual assessments of our schools from becoming the basis for systemic change in school policy.

And, importantly, our community status quos traditions also help ensure financial difficulties are not used as a guise to replace the collective wisdom of our community with the self-proclaimed genius of individual council members.

 


Michael Gardner is a quixotic citizen and founder of the Blueweeds community blog.

 

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