Tuesday, July 17, 2018

These are the candidates running for the School Board in District 2.

On the August 2nd general election ballot are races for school board in district 2, 4, 6, and 8.  I do not live in one of these district, have heard little about the candidates and do not know any of them.  School board races are important. Some people take the attitude that the only people who should care about school board elections are people with children in public schools.  I strongly disagree. The quality of our schools and how much of our tax dollars they spend affects us all. It impacts home values, taxation, crime, incarceration rates and more. If I lived in a district with a school board race, I would educate myself on the candidates and vote in that election.  The School Board spends the bulk of Metro's tax money and most of our schools are low performing.  Nashville has a lot of good things going for it but the quality of our schools is not one of them. While the population of Davidson County is growing, school enrollment is shrinking. Apparently, parents are enrolling their children in private schools or the population moving to Nashville are skewed toward people people without children and those with children are moving to surrounding counties instead of Nashville.

In selecting who I would vote for there are certain factors I would consider. School board elections are non-partisan but if a candidate's political affiliation can be determined, I would vote for a Republican over a Democrat. If a candidates political ideology can be determined I would prefer a conservative over a liberal.  I would usually prefer an educated candidate over a less educated candidate. There are exceptionally capable people with only a high school education, of course, but in general, if I had limited knowledge of the candidates and other factors were equal, I would vote for the better educated person. I would tend to vote for someone who calls for increased efficiency and wise use of current resources over someone who calls for an increase in the school budget.  I would support someone who supports school choice over someone who opposes charter schools.

There are some factors that would not sway me to vote for a particular candidate and some that would be negative factors. Some candidates tout as a qualification that they have children in public schools. That does not carry weight with me.  School budgets and school quality effect us all.  If a person has a child in private school that is not a reason to vote against them, the way I see it.  Everyone has to do what is best for their family.  The person with a child in private schools may be better aware of just how bad our schools are and may be committed to making them better.  Also, being childless or single is not a negative in my view.  I want the kind of people who I would want to serve as Board of Directors  of a company.  Being wise decision makers may not be dependent on weather or not one is a parent.

Having been a teacher or married to a teacher or having teachers in your family is not necessarily a factor that would make me vote for someone. The former teacher or person with teachers in their family may be biased in favor of more spending. They may be less objective than someone else.  Getting the endorsement of the MNEA which is the teachers union, or getting the endorsement of the SEIU would not be a disqualifying factor but would make me less likely to vote for someone; not more. If a candidate got a union endorsement then they are probably committed to higher taxes and more school funding.

There are five candidates running for school board in district 2. I know none of the candidates. Today The Tennessean ran an article profiling them. You can read the article at this link. From information gleamed from the Tennessean article and the candidate's websites, here is what I know about the candidates.

Edward Arnold
Edward Arnold: He ran unsuccessfully for the school board in 2014. He says he hopes to monitor and be a voice against what he sees as a ballooning Nashville public schools budget. He says charter schools have a place in Nashville but questions the number in some districts. Arnold has a specific proposal for improving our schools which he calls TIPS, Teacher Incentive for Public Schools. While I pause at the idea of creating a new paid board for studying our schools, as envisioned by Mr. Arnold, the proposed new study group would only exist for six months. That could be a better expenditure of money than all of the money we spend on outside consultants. This proposal shows that Mr. Arnold has thought deeply about our schools and has ideas for improving the schools. He also is critical of the School Board for doing away with two programs that improved the school offerings for better students. These are the AP classes and the Cambridge Program. I agree with him in this criticism. I am somewhat favorably impressed. For more information on the candidate follow this link and to visit his website, follow this link

Rachael Anne Elrod
Rachael Anne Elrod: She is the wife of Councilman Jeremy Elrod and a former teacher in another town.  She is critical of charter schools repeating the claim that charter schools drain money away from the school district. Charter school funding, of course, follows the student, so when a student is no longer educated in a regular school the school the child was attending no longer gets the funding to educate that student. Charter schools drain money away from the school district the same way magnet schools do.  She has the endorsement of Nashvillians for an Effective School Board and the Nashville Neighborhood Defense Fund. I would not vote for this candidate. To view her website follow this link

Jesse Gentry

Jesse Gentry: He is a former Tennessee Department of Children Services attorney. He tells The Tennessean he takes a middle of the road approach to charter schools. He is endorsed by the SEIU, which in my view is a negative.  Here is a link to his website and his school board campaign Facebook page.

TC Weber
Thomas 'TC' Weber: He is an education blogger and the name of his blog is Dad Gone Wild.  He is well-informed and opinionated. I was not aware of his blog until today, but have spend a couple hours reading it. He says he supports more funding for education but thinks it should come from the state.  A lot of people think the funding formula is unfair to Nashville and I don't know if that is true or not but I am pleased to see that he did not call for a property tax increase. I am impressed by anyone who is as informed as he and who puts as much work into advocating a position on the issues. He gets into the details of how much it cost to rent a bus for field trips, and when school employee training is cancelled and personnel vacancies and the process of evaluating the director. He is supportive of IB, Cambridge, and AP classes, as am I.  He is however an opponent of charter school growth and I am very much in favor of expanding charter schools. He also has the endorsement of MNEA but years ago when I ran for the Metro Council I received the same endorsement, so it is possible to get that endorsement without promising to always support tax increases.  While TC Weber's depth of knowledge is impressive, I would find it difficult to support anyone who opposes charter schools. He has some legal offenses in his background for such things as DUI, trespassing and assault but they were twenty years ago. He says he was an alcoholic but has been sober for years and is a changed man.  I would not hold his past against him. For a lot of information on his position on the issues see his blog. For his campaign Facebook page follow this link.

Radir Annoor, the fifth candidate did not submit information for The Tennessean's article on the District 2 school board race and I cannot find a campaign website or any information about him. Apparently he is not a serious candidate.

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