The Grand Rapids Board of Education election is next Tuesday, May 3rd. Eight candidates are running for two 4-year-term seats. Your choices run from one incumbent to a semi-polished pair picked by the teachers union to a minister, a disgruntled mother, a working stiff, a kid, and finally a missing-in-action candidate (perhaps due to an alien abduction). In other words, the usual mix offering nothing much than the hackneyed tripe about too little money, too much racism, and, of course, it’s all about the children.
What none of the candidates seem to get is that the Grand Rapids public school system is a corpse.
Do not look to any of the candidates for leadership on that score. The most raucous “debate” among the candidates, that goes anywhere in that direction, is over Dr. Bernard Taylor, current superintendent of the Grand Rapids Public School District. The man clearly does not want to stay here and has been looking around the country for another gig. Currently he has set his sites on the top job in the Cleveland school district. As to which candidate is for Taylor and his agenda and which is against, I am told you can sort this out by reading between the lines of their milquetoast public statements and checking out their endorsements. I suppose a Kremlinologist could figure this out, but why bother?
Dealing with Taylor (i.e., telling him to pack his bags) doesn’t deal with the wreck of the public school system and the 18,500 students trapped within it. Nor does privatizing the support staff, demanding greater academic rigor, calling for more discipline in the classroom, bemoaning the school choice, waving the bloody red shirt of racism, promising to put the kids first, blah, blah, blah. While some of these things certainly must be done, none of the candidates are telling us how. And that “how” has to more than a program that either gets swept away or becomes another boondoggle sinecure. It has to be change embedded in the institution of our public schools, but that means ousting the entrenched interests of the public sector unions, the education bureaucracy, and the ideologues who push their agenda through the classroom.
None of the candidates are up to that challenge. See for yourself. Here they are, along with a link to their website:
Dr. Monica Randles, 43, pediatrician, endorsed by the teachers union, the Kent County Democratic Party, and the usual lefty suspects, website: http://www.electmonica.com/. Randles calls for more academic rigor and discipline in the classroom. Yes, and we all want sunshine and lollipops, but how do we get them? She doesn’t have much to say on this, except that we were not allowed to draw any conclusions from the endorsements she received, because that would be “negative”. Do we need another tool of the machine that put our city schools on this road to ruin?
Raynard Ross, 42, director of Grand Rapids Community College’s Upward Bound program, also endorsed by the teachers union, the Kent County Democratic Party, and the usual lefty suspects, website: http://rossforgrps.org/. Ross is firmly against the way the school board currently silences public comment at meetings, which puts him on the side of the angels here. Otherwise, he’s put nothing on the table that leads one to think he will challenge that fundamental problems of the city school system.
Catherine Mueller, 61, incumbent board member running for a third term, retired Kent County bureaucrat, website: none other than her official profile at http://www.grpublicschools.org/. Mueller thinks you are a racist if you used the school choice program to take your kids out of the city schools to put them into one of the suburban schools. She also supports the current policy that severely limits public comments at school board members: You must submit your comments in writing several days in advance, which then gives the authorities an opportunity to “discuss” your problem with you and help you decide if you really want to make a fuss in public. After presiding over eight years of decline and gagging public disgust with that record, it’s time to boot her.
Walter Brame, 64, retiring president of the Grand Rapids Urban League, website: http://www.facebook.com/people/Walter-Brame/1666539026. Brame thinks we’re not doing enough to help black kids in the public school system. Perhaps not making a fetish of skin color would be a good place to start.
David Clark, 34, salesman with Arvco Container Corp, website: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Friends-to-Elect-David-Clark/194351653926630. No comment because Clark hasn’t said much beyond bromides.
Christine Jurrians, 56, medical transcriptionist, website: http://www.facebook.com/jurriansforgrps. Jurrians makes clear that cost-cutting is in order. She’s pushing for privatization of the support staff, but we need more than that.
Christopher Sain Jr., 27, clinical therapist, website: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Elect-Chris-Sain-for-Grand-Rapids-School-Board/175721329139202. None of his elders in this election inspire confidence, but youth isn’t the ticket either.
Terry Lee Zylstra, 61, retired. Neither hide nor hair of this man has been seen since he announced his candidacy. He may very be the man with a plan that is needed. That would make him unusual specimen, which is why I suspect he has been abducted by aliens.