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The Scoop - Keep politics off School Boards
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I think it’s safe to say there’s an abundance of anger in America today. Our volatile political system can foster its share of blame for stirring this divisiveness.

If you want a surefire way to have 10 Democrats reject a great idea, just have a Republican introduce it. No matter how wonderful the plan and how many people it may benefit, the Democrats won’t like it simply because it came from a Republican.

The same can be said of Republicans. They will stomp a brilliant idea into the ground simply because it came from a Democrat. 

Everyone talks about holding hands and singing a bipartisan song, but it seldom happens. We can’t even unite in the face of a global pandemic that’s now claimed more than 5 million lives on our planet.

Wear a mask. No, I won’t.

Get vaccinated. You can’t make me!

With this backdrop in mind, I absolutely, positively do not like a measure passed last week by the Tennessee General Assembly that allows candidates for School Board to run as Republicans or Democrats. It’s a terrible idea that will only draw more lines and lead to more unnecessary hostility.

Up until this point, candidates for School Board haven’t had the option of running as Republicans or Democrats. It’s my hope candidates, in the past, have run for School Board because they want to make a positive impact on educating our children.

Candidates for McMinnville city government don’t run as Democrats or Republicans. They run for mayor or run for alderman without a party affiliation. It works well.

But in showing the wisdom of fixing something that's not broken, our state lawmakers have given communities the option of having partisan School Board races. It’s an idea that smells like a dead dog.

If you talk to just about anyone in our school system, they will say the biggest problem with education is that politics has become involved. Teachers can no longer step into a classroom and teach. There’s a constant drumbeat of orders parading down from Nashville from people who are not educators, but who are telling educators what to do.

This is a problem which has gotten pretty bad in recent years and it will only get worse if we have School Board members operating under directives of a political party.

Teaching reading and math is not a political issue. Neither is teaching history. Education is an area where we should all pull together for the common good of our kids. 

I understand there will always be differences of opinion when it comes to just about anything – including how to teach our children. But there’s no reason to add an unnecessary layer of hostility and divisiveness to a situation that’s already challenging enough. 

We don’t need Republicans and Democrats on our School Board. That will not help our system get better. We need people dedicated to educating our children in the best way possible.

Standard editor James Clark can be reached at 473-2191.