by Jack Minor –
Three of the candidates the Tribune specifically said should not be elected to the school board say the newspaper’s statements reveal their bias to real and meaningful change for the district.
In an editorial Sunday, the Tribune stated it was announcing which candidates it would endorse in a different way this year. “Rather than saying these are the three candidates we support for the four-year terms, and this is the candidate we support for the two-year term, we decided to group and rank them based on who we think would be good board members (A Team), who are OK, but not what the district needs at this time (B Team), and finally, those we believe might actually be a negative influence on the board (C Team).”
Two days prior to the Tribune’s endorsements, the Gazette announced its endorsements for the school board seats. This was the first time the Gazette had endorsed any candidates for office.
The Gazette endorsed four candidates; Scott Rankin, Bret Elliott, Geoff Broughton and Tim Pike. The endorsement was based on these candidates all having real world experience regarding the struggles faced by common everyday citizens in the district.
Three of the four candidates we endorsed have executive experience in the workforce. At a time of decreasing budgets for everyone, this experience is invaluable in helping the district become more efficient and helping provide more “bang for the buck.”
Following the Gazette endorsements, three of the Gazette-endorsed candidates were listed on the Tribune’s “do not vote for” list.
The Tribune said of Broughton, Elliott and Rankin “We do not think they should serve on the board.” The Tribune also said, “We do not believe these candidates would have a positive influence on our schools or our students.”
The Tribune is of the opinion that those candidates are overly concerned about resolving the District’s fiscal woes. “These three candidates seem much more concerned with the funding and financial aspects of public education, and not with how to give all children the best education possible.”
In a subsequent editorial, the Tribune said if you don’t know about the candidates they would prefer you not vote. “If you look at a particular race and don’t know the candidates, then don’t vote. Voting based on a sign you might have seen while at a stop light could be detrimental.”
The Gazette contacted Broughton, Elliott and Rankin and asked them if they felt the Tribune’s assessment of them was correct.
Broughton said that he did agree with the Tribune’s statement that he was concerned about the District’s finances. “Of course, that’s an important issue. You can’t provide a quality education unless you get your financial house in order,” Broughton said. “Tthe Tribune taking offense at a person for wanting to look for ways for us to live within our means just shows how biased they are. They apparently think the only solution to a problem is to throw money at it.”
Elliott said while he strongly supports the district getting its finances in order, that is far from the only issue he has advocated. “I believe the key problem facing our schools is restoring discipline and respect for teachers in the classroom.” Elliott continued, “We need to free our teachers up to be creative in how they teach. This would allow them to be, in essence, mini-entrepreneurs in their classroom. They know how to teach, let’s let them do it and not micro-manage them.”
Elliott did say the Tribune was right about his opposition to tax increases. “Our problem is not that we are undertaxed, we simply do not use the funds we have wisely.”
Rankin said the Tribune is falling into the trap of believing that more money will solve all the district’s problems. “It comes as no surprise that the Tribune has stated that they believe I am not worthy to serve on the district 6 school board. They associate more money with better outcomes for our students and are more concerned with their ideals and maintaining the status quo rather than implementing positive changes in which all concerned would benefit.”
Rankin summed it up by saying if the candidates endorsed by the Tribune were elected they would support the Tribune’s belief in increasing taxes. “The candidates endorsed by the Tribune should give the Tribune what they want.”