Election season is upon us and our thoughts will be on gubernatorial, congressional, and city council races. But how many of you will be giving any thought to school board elections? If you live in Stockton, recent publicity may have you thinking about school boards a little more than you usually would, but under normal circumstances (I have yet to figure out what "normal" might be) most folks don't give much thought to who their school board trustees are and what is going on in their district.
Having served a year and a half as a Stockton Unified trustee, I have come to realize that without the drama that our district has gone through of late, most people wouldn't give a thought about the goings-on of school districts unless they are employed by one or have a child in one. When I walked door-to-door when I was campaigning, I was amazed at how many people said they didn't care or pay any attention because they didn't have children or their children were grown. Although I wanted to slap them upside their heads and yell, "You fool!", I graciously explained to them the consequences to their neighborhoods and community (e.g. crime, no educated work force to attract employers, etc.) when children did not graduate from high school. Amazingly, most of the people said they hadn't thought about that.
I know that the audience that is reading this "gets it". There is no need for me to preach to the choir about the importance of public service and helping the community in which you live. Never in a million years did I ever think that I would run for public office. Working on other people's campaigns, however, made me realize that we all need to step up to the plate and offer what we can to improve the lives in our community. I knew the things that were important to me, and knew that I was capable of studying issues and making sound decisions. I knew that running for the seat on the school board was the right thing to do.
Stockton Unified School District has approximately 40,000 students and a budget of almost a half BILLION dollars. We are the 17th largest school district in the state. Every decision that is made affects everyone in the community.
Every school board needs to have trustees that are committed to serving their community - trustees that are not there to fulfill personal agendas or to use the position merely as what they think is an "entry level" position to other political endeavors. Given the SUSD statistics in the previous paragraph, it is evident that this job is as important as any other community position. This is not to say in any way that the trustee positions in the smaller districts are not as important; they certainly are. I just happen to be a trustee in the largest district in the area.
So what is the point of all of this? I'm sure that you've figured out by now that I'm going to implore anyone with good sense, a commitment to the community, and who is eligible to run to PLEASE consider running for a seat on your local school board. We need good people to make the decisions for our children. Stockton Unified has four seats up for reelection and I believe Lincoln has at least three. Although this job has been the most challenging I've ever had (and I still have two and a half years to go), I haven't regretted it for a minute. Have I have a few more restless nights than before my school board life and have I had a few more gin and tonics than I used to? Absolutely! But it is SO worth it when I can hold my head up high and know that I am doing something important for all of us. What helps me the most is supportive family, the great people I've met, and knowing that I have the support of Stonewall and so many others who I know are always there for me.
So, are you thinking about it just a little now? Or a lot? Even just a little curious? Call me at 992-1840 or e-mail me at email@example.com. P.S. If you don't already know, I'm a real nag so if you don't call me or fill out those candidate papers, I'll probably have to write this again in next month's newsletter. Save yourself the agony of having to read it again - JUST DO IT!