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Opinion

School Dazed


  • By The Newnan Times-Herald
  • |
  • May. 13, 2022 - 8:12 AM

School Dazed

Alex McRae is an author and ghostwriter. His debut novel, “Rough Draft,” is now available. He can be reached at: alexmmcrae@gmail.com

It took one quarter of college math to convince me I would never understand calculus. Fine.

But I just used my basic math skills to figure out that from kindergarten through twelfth grade I attended six different schools and probably had more than thirty different teachers.

The six schools I attended were in four different school districts. Each of those districts had its own board of education. To this day, I can't name a single member of the board of education of the school districts that educated me.

I’m good with that. Not everyone is.

As far as I can tell, members of most local school boards are doing a fine job. Yet many of them are being forced to defend themselves against baseless charges from school board candidates who believe that pushing a political agenda is more important than promoting student success.

Anybody who thinks this is a good idea, please grab your dunce cap and go sit in the classroom corner.

In the bad old days, school boards were responsible for balancing the budget and making sure that every school had decent facilities and a well-educated faculty. All these things were accomplished in private. That’s how it should work.

Times have changed. Now school board candidates more interested in raising their social media profiles than their school system’s academic standards are using every dirty trick in the political handbook to gain control of decisions once entrusted to trained, experienced educators.

In some school systems, board members are celebrities. For all the wrong reasons.

They do not use their public platforms to brag about student success or improve their school system.

They spend their time yapping about things that are as far removed from the ABCs as Albert Einstein is from The Count on Sesame Street.

Schools and school board meetings have now become pawns in an ugly political game. Times change. So do voter priorities.

Some local school board elections are drawing more interest than the races for seats in congress. Political observers say schools—and school board controversies—were the most important factor in the 2020 Virginia governor’s race.

My question is “Why?” School board candidates who have never looked at the local curriculum are running for school board seats by claiming that the local schools waste money on needless projects while promoting everything from racism to sexism, communism, and exorcism.

Clearly, some school board candidates are more interested in pushing political agendas than promoting public education.

As we say in the music world—that sucks. And it’s happening everywhere.

In the school board races in my home county, some candidates claim our current school administrators are more devoted to wasting tax dollars and promoting wacky theories than educating our kids.

Student achievement results tell a different story.

According to a study recently released by US News and World Report, all three of the high schools in my home county were rated among the nation's best.

The results of presidential and congressional elections may affect a community down the road—or not at all. The consequences of poor school leadership are much more immediate—and much more destructive.

If a school has bad teachers, school administrators can fix the problem. If a county has stupid school board members, only the public can fix that problem.

And the only place to fix it is at the ballot box.

Alex McRae is an author and ghostwriter. His debut novel, “Rough Draft,” is now available. He can be reached at: alexmmcrae@gmail.com