With all eyes anxiously focused on the Congressional midterms, there is also a vitally important race taking place right here in Coronado, and that is the one for CUSD Trustees. Four CUSD school board seats come up for election on November 8.
At the local governmental level, citizen participation and oversight are essential to the maintenance of a robust democracy. School board members, numbering nearly 100,000 nation-wide, represent the largest group of elected officials in the country. They carry the weightiest responsibility, ensuring that our precious youth — the future of our country — have the very best educational experience.
Until very recently, the nonpartisan office of school board trustee was relatively immune from the turbulence of party politics. Recently, however, civility, nonpartisanship, and consensus within school boards across the nation have been replaced by rancor and disruption, fostered by “activist” parent groups with right-wing organizational backing, bent on stirring discord with misinformation over “critical race theory” and public health measures to fight Covid. With over 180 such groups swarming school board meetings in at least 34 states, we are facing a juggernaut that threatens to undermine the core purpose of school boards in order to gin up right-wing voters for the 2022 midterm elections and beyond.
These are indeed challenging times to be a school board member, but by all appearances, our CUSD Board has become more cohesive and united in its determination not to tolerate disruption; to seek consensus among its members in an atmosphere of civility and mutual respect; and to keep the focus on making the CUSD experience the best it can be. Please help them to build on the ground they have gained, and the lessons learned by stepping up to meet the challenge of keeping the Board on track with its vital work.
Here’s what you can do:
Run for the School Board:
There are many rewards to Board membership. And don’t think that you must be a parent of a CUSD student to qualify. All community members have a stake in ensuring that CUSD is the finest it can be. After all, parents do not want to move to a community with sub-par schools, and this affects property values.
What does a Board Member do?
You are one of the five people who set the goals and objectives for the district and create a budget that reflects those priorities — an enormously important and consequential role to play in our community.
It takes about 20 or so hours per month with additional opportunities for governance training and professional development.
What does it take to be a good school board member?
- The desire to be part of a team that is committed to public service and students.
- Commitment to doing research, reading the data, and filtering fact from fiction.
- A thick skin and a willingness to stand up to bullies and say, “You can’t scare us.”
If people who stand for truth, nonpartisan consensus-building, and unwavering focus on the best possible educational experience for our children don’t run for the Board, we leave a vacuum for the radical right-wing to continue to wreak partisan havoc. Your candidacy will help to maintain the focus of discussion on what’s best for our kids and away from inflammatory partisan rhetoric. Now, more than ever, we need candidates who can be role models for our children to show that fearmongering and hate have no place in our civic life.
Our Club has knowledgeable people who will mentor anyone who is considering running but is unsure what to do to run a campaign. And the County Dems have a training program for candidates endorsed by the Party. Other resources to help you mount a campaign are “Run, Women, Run Academy” and “She Should Run.”
If you have any interest or know of anyone who might be interested in running, please contact Susan Marrinan at email@example.com. Currently serving board members as well as Superintendent Mueller are also good resources to learn more about the job.
Attend School Board meetings:
Put these 2022 monthly Board meeting dates in your calendar:
(Thursdays at 4 p.m.) February 17, March 10, April 21, May 19, June 9, June 23, August 18, September 15, October 20, November 17, December 15
Your presence at the meetings strengthens the voice of civility and reason, focuses on educational excellence and leaves less room, literally, for those who want to turn meetings into political showcases for their own agendas. If you can’t attend, you can go to http://coronadotv.me/school-board/ to watch a video of it.
Whether or not you attend these meetings, the agenda always includes time for public comments. You can either speak at the meeting or submit a written comment that will be read aloud. Send written comments to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Attending or viewing board meetings will give you first-hand knowledge of the proceedings. You will be able to communicate your experience and reactions to those you know as well as through more formal channels like letters to the editor in the local newspapers.
Support the campaigns of good candidates:
Trustee Stacy Keszei’s sudden resignation has left open a board seat. At the last board meeting, it was decided that her seat would be filled by appointment. The procedure is not completely settled but will likely entail a call for applicants, their vetting by a board subcommittee comprised of two board members, interviews, and possibly an appointment during the February meeting.
One excellent candidate, Alexia Palacios-Peters, has announced her candidacy. She has applied to fill the current vacancy and will also run in the November election for a four-year term. Because Alexia is a federal employee, the Hatch Act prevents our club, as a political organization, from endorsing her. But, as individuals, we can still support her. Alexia is a mother of three children in CUSD, a military spouse, an attorney, and a former educator who has advocated for families, children, and veterans. She puts an emphasis on promoting kindness and inclusion in our schools through the Equity Committee and the No Place for Hate program. Given that the most recent “Healthy Kids Survey” shows that between 10 and 20 percent of kids report some form of bullying, creating an inclusive and safe environment for our students remains an important issue to address. You can contact Alexia on her Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/alexiaforCSB/
What do candidates need?
- In general, candidates need money! You can hold a fundraising house party or just give on your own.
- Write letters to the editor of our local publications supporting Alexia and other qualified candidates and/or advocating for issues the board should focus on.
- Volunteer to make calls, canvass (Covid permitting), distribute and display yard signs, and participate in other key activities.
We will send out periodic communications to keep you abreast of developments, candidates, and ways you can support them as we approach election time.
In the meantime, you can learn more about school board issues and what’s happening with CUSD by joining in Trustee Whitney Antrim’s Office Hours on Zoom:
Whitney Antrim is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting. Topic: Whitney’s Office Hours
Time: Feb 10, 2022 03:00 PM Pacific Time (US and Canada)
Join Zoom Meeting
Meeting ID: 851 1148 6674