By Seth Grossman, Political Columnist
??? This Tuesday, 554 of New Jersey’s 603 school districts will hold special elections to choose board members and approve or reject budgets.?? These elections are meaningless propaganda tools, just like the ones used by Saddam Hussein in Iraq.
??? Our “education professionals” use them to fool us into thinking that “public” schools are accountable to the public, and that we citizens really have some say as to how they are run.?
??? In most school elections, few qualified, independent candidates run, and few voters vote.?? It rarely matters who wins or loses, or whether or not the budget passes.?? The system is designed that way.
??? First, public school elections are held separately in April, rather than with general elections in November, to guarantee a low turnout.?? This makes it easy for school officials to dominate the elections with literature and automated phone calls sent to school employees and parents of students.?? Low turnouts also make it easy for our “education professionals” to ignore the results those rare times when they lose.
??? Second, electing school board members discourages most qualified independent people from serving.?? Appointed boards in Linwood, Ventnor, and Margate find it much easier to find qualified members.?? It takes just as much work to run for school board, as for town council or committee, but there is no pay, pension, or health benefits when one wins.?? There is also little personal satisfaction.?? School boards are usually too large (7 to 9 members) for an individual member to make much of a difference.
??? And it’s hard to make a difference even if you have a majority of like-minded members.?? State law and state-mandated union rules make it impossible to discipline bad teachers, pay them less, or replace them with better teachers.?? (With 300 applicants for every vacant teaching position, there is much room for improvement.)
??? Federal and state laws also force public schools to pay anywhere from $40,000 to $60,000 per year on special programs to teach “special needs” children, including some who simply cannot be taught.?? This leaves our schools without money to train the future scientists and doctors who might someday cure these “special needs”.?? These laws also force schools to spend fortunes on disruptive kids, who don’t want to learn, when these kids should be out of school picking crops or washing dishes until they learn the value of education.
??? Finally, school board members these days are surrounded by high paid lawyers, administrators, consultants, teachers, and union officials, who constantly tell them that their common sense is wrong, these nutty rules are good, and that they have a duty to support higher taxes and spending “for the children”.
??? A few genuine heroes like Mary Hunt of Mullica Township step forward every now and then.?? They run, win, and fight against all odds.?? They have achieved remarkable results for students and taxpayers.?? But most candidates do not have the knowledge, skills, time, money, energy, and fighting spirit to do that.?? In many districts, there are few candidates, and many are running unopposed, even though most citizens want change.
??? In many districts, most school board candidates don’t want to change the system because they are part of it.?? Many candidates are NJEA union teachers or administrators from other districts, spouses of NJEA teachers or administrators, or public school retirees, etc….?? Others are indirectly connected as government employees, professionals, or contractors hired by the school district, or parents who want taxpayers to fund band, specialized sports, or other expensive programs that benefit their own kids.
??? Besides voting for school board members, we also vote on school budgets.?? This is a real joke.?? If the budget is approved, the “education professionals” brag about their mandate from the people.?? If the budget is rejected, they denounce the low turnout, and the ignorance, apathy, and selfishness of the citizens.?? They then ask their local town officials to approve what the voters rejected.?? Town officials usually go along, rather than face the orchestrated anger at packed budget meetings.?? But even if the elected town officials also reject a rejected school budget, school officials can appeal to Governor Jon Corzine’s Education Commissioner to restore any cuts.?? Since the NJEA put Corzine in office, school officials usually succeed.
??? This explains why the Mainland High School board hiked its spending by $1.4 million, and is again proposing an expensive and useless language lab that was rejected by the voters just last year!
For more information, visit www.libertyandprosperity.org or contact Somers Point attorney Seth Grossman at firstname.lastname@example.org or 609-927-7333.??? Seth Grossman hosts a two way talk radio program every Saturday from 8am – 9am on WVLT Vineland, 92.1 FM.