Diary of a Former School Board Candidate – PART I

Dear Diary –

When I set out to run for school board, I did so realistically.  I knew that change is difficult to achieve – especially in the public school experience.  Therefore, I was not surprised with the difficulty.  However, I was disappointed because I actually felt the difficulty.  There’s a difference between knowing and feeling – and I felt disappointed that positive change is so hard to come by.

Creating teacher-centric schools is a daunting challenge.  I ran on a platform that included ideas long-held by prominent scholars of education such as the late John Goodlad and Linda Darling-Hammond.  I truly believed that my involvement in the district would help infuse some good ideas into our community.

I was surprised that so many of the news reporters who called me wanted to discuss the school closings made earlier in the year.  The Winona Post didn’t do this nearly as much as the Winona Daily News.  My response was simple: I am running for the next school board, not the last school board.  Nevertheless, the issue stuck and seemed to dominate the headlines.  I guess it made a good story – but it wasn’t a story from which the bells of progress rang.  I was less concerned about brick and mortar – and more concerned about what went on inside the brick and mortar.

The local media could have engaged in real journalism during the campaign.  My campaign centered on ideas – and I spent a lot of my time getting to know the schools and their teachers to see if the ideas would be a match – and they were.  I would have loved it if a journalist picked up the ideas of my campaign and did feature stories on them. The ideas were rooted in research and best practices – and were unconventional for the landscape of the American public school experience.  But, that’s not what happened.  In fact, the most peculiar moment of my campaign came in an endorsement interview with the Winona Daily News’ “editorial board”.  In my interview, the former editor of the Winona Daily News treated me belligerently and literally raised his voice at me in protest of the ideas I proposed in my campaign.  I answered the man’s questions and he continued to berate me – rather than showing any interest in what I proposed.  When I proposed to this man that he consult a resource to learn more about what I proposed, he recoiled: “I don’t have to know that because I’m not running for school board!”  So much for investigative journalism.

Yes, indeed, creating teacher-centric schools is a daunting challenge.  I know.  I tried.

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