Calling conservatives: Last day of Oklahoma school board 2015 filing period

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It sneaks up on us every year -- the filing period for next spring's school board elections across Oklahoma. It's the first Monday in December and the two days following, at the start of the Christmas season as popularly defined. This year the timing of the filing period is the worst possible as it comes right on the heels of the long Thanksgiving weekend. The elections themselves will be the second Tuesday next February, followed by a runoff, if necessary, the first Tuesday in April. It's almost as if school board elections were deliberately scheduled to escape the notice of potential candidates and voters.

The filing period for the 2015 school board elections will close on Wednesday, December 3, 2014, at 5:00 p.m. So far no seat in Tulsa County has drawn more than one candidate, and seats in Skiatook, Liberty, and Keystone have no candidates at all so far.

Conservatives shouldn't overlook these races. Oklahoma's tax-funded schools can and should be reformed to reflect the priorities and values of Oklahoma's conservative majority.

When public schools were founded by local communities, they were designed to prepare students to function capably as free and equal adult citizens in the community and to assist the parents of the community in propagating their ideals and values to the next generation. Schools had high expectations of their students, regardless of their wealth or ethnic backgrounds, and students graduated ready to make their own way in the world and contribute to the betterment of the community.

As part of the Left's Gramscian Long March through the nation's institutions, the Left has come to claim public schools as its own mission stations among the benighted and savage conservatives of Flyover Country. Since, in the Left's view, the American civilization established by our Founders is utterly corrupt and in need of fundamental transformation, the political, social, and moral values that built American civilization and American liberty must be junked. The schools can be used to alienate children from their parents and their community's values and to prepare children to accept the Left's political and moral indoctrination. Court decisions divorcing schools from community values have abetted the transformation, as have the public's neglect of the school board as a tool for accountability. Too often, a school board can see itself as enablers and servants of the "professionals" in the administration, rather than as the public's proxy as bosses of the paid staff.

There are many good teachers, administrators, and board members in the public schools who are not on the side of the Left. They are attempting to carry on the traditional purpose of the public schools. They deserve our appreciation and our help in obtaining reinforcements.

Gifted teachers are often frustrated by the bureaucratic tendency for the mediocre to rise to the top. Testing, often imposed out of a well-intentioned desire to hold schools accountable for results, instead inhibits creativity and pushes curriculum toward centralized conformity -- providing another channel for Leftist suppression of local values.

Adding to the corrupt mess, curriculum decisions are driven by textbook publishers and test makers who are pushing new products, trying to make a buck at the expense of school children who would benefit from time-tested teaching methods instead of the latest fad.

Grants are another source of distortion. Grant money comes with strings, and schools may divert other funds to meet the conditions required to receive a grant. Our Oklahoma legislators and governor had the courage to reject a short-term boost of Obamacare funds because of the long-term harm the program would do and the long-term costs the deal would incur. Wouldn't it be wonderful if we had public school boards filled with men and women who had the courage to reject federal, state, or private grants that would distract from the school's mission or compromise the school's support for the community's values?

Every school district in Oklahoma has at least one seat up for election every year. All but the very largest independent districts are on a five-year cycle -- five board members, each serving a five-year term. This time the Office 5 seat is up for election. In Tulsa County, that affects every school district except Tulsa and Keystone.

Dependent (K-8) districts have three members each serving a three-year term; Office 1 is up this year.

The Tulsa district is a special case; its board has seven members, elected by district to four-year terms. Most years, Tulsa elects two members, but this year only one seat is up: District 1, currently held by Democrat incumbent Gary Percefull, who is so far the only candidate to file. The election district covers the part of the Tulsa school district southwest of the Arkansas River, plus downtown Tulsa and precincts to the north, west, south, and southeast, and the precincts along the Sand Springs Line.

Some districts may also have an additional seat on the ballot to fill an unexpired term.

One seat on the Tulsa Technology Center board, Zone 3, is also on the ballot. This board has seven members, serving rotating seven-year terms. Zone 3 consists of 31st to 81st Street, Yale to 129th East Ave, plus 81st to 101st, Memorial to 129th East Ave, plus 31st to 41st, 129th to 145th East Ave, plus a triangular area bounded by 129th, 71st, and the railroad. Tim Bradley is the incumbent, but only one candidate, Guy Mark Griffin, has filed. (Mark your calendar: Kathy Taylor's daughter, the Zone 4 incumbent, will be up for re-election in the 2015-2016 cycle.)

Tulsa Technology Center has been in a massive expansion mode for many years. Since 2011, TTC has opened new campuses in Owasso and Sand Springs and renovated its Broken Arrow campus. It would be nice if at least one board member was willing to look at long-range financial sustainability of all the new facilities and whether TTC could let the voters decide to reduce its millage rate, allowing voters to decide whether to add that millage to meet more pressing needs via another taxing entity or to put it back in property taxpayers' pockets.

Please take a few minutes to look at the maps of school districts and board zones and the list of offices to be filled and candidate filings to see whether your district, ward, or zone has an election this year. If you don't live in a district up for election, think about good men and women you know who do. Take a look at the official school board candidate filing packet and fill it out, then get yourself or someone else down to the county election board by 5:00 p.m.

These are winnable races. School elections have low turnout, and, although the races are non-partisan, the Oklahoma Republican Party and county GOP organizations make their resources available and help mobilize volunteers and donors for registered Republicans running for school and municipal offices. Some good organization and hard work could be enough to win, but the first step is to file.

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» Run for School Board from BatesLine

Next Monday through Wednesday, December 7 - 9, 2015, is the filing period for public school board positions in Oklahoma. Most school districts will have a single seat, Position No. 1 up for election to a five-year term. Skiatook will have one additiona... Read More

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on December 2, 2014 10:55 PM.

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