Monday, April 14, 2008

When I was growing up the School Board was an appointed body by the Mayor with Council’s approval. Plainfield’s system had one of the highest ratings in the country. Graduates, quotas permitting, were admitted to all of the prestigious colleges. During my children’s school years the system underwent a major change. The 6-3-3 schools replaced the k to 8th grade, 4year high school configuration.
It was during that period that the elected board came into existence. The prevailing thought of the time was to give the public greater input by selecting the Board’s membership. In theory that was an excellent idea, However too many of the candidates. Had n arrow self serving agendas Moreover, instead of the elections being non political, the local organization frequently ran a slate for the vacancies. With an organization behind them, the entire slate usual placed all members on the Board. The Board of Education became a minor league for aspiring party politicians. adopting all of the vices of a city government.
Despite the fact that the “school budget” is one of the biggest devourers of our local tax dollars. only about 10% of the electorate participated in these elections. That statistic leading to the ability for small power groups to dominate the Board is why I have always felt that the appointed board would be a more effective format.
Unfortunately in Plainfield an appointed board of team players would place the local dominant political party in absolute control of the Board of Education.
The ideal solution is an increased citizen’s awareness in the significance of the BOE elections, resulting in voting participation equal to that in the general elections.

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