Board split not liberal vs. conservative

Despite common characterizations of Madison’s school board as split along liberal and conservative lines, it just ain’t so.
The seven members of the board of education have to be among the most liberal people in Madison. I’d guess that all seven voted for John Kerry in the last presidential election, and they’ll all probably vote for the Democratic candidate in the next presidential election, no matter who the candidate might be.
The true fault line runs between a group determined to defend the status quo and a group whose few members ask whether the board and district could be better.
The status quo defenders say things like “Madison is the best school district in the nation” and “We follow the best possible decision-making processes. No change could make any improvement.”
By contrast, the questioners raise queries like “How can equity be improved in the district?” and “How can we make decisions on budget cuts before we’ve seen the budget?”
Forget liberal vs. conservative. Think in terms of status quo vs. improvement.
Ed Blume

3 thoughts on “Board split not liberal vs. conservative”

  1. Ed:
    Thanks for the post. You are absolutely right. There are no “Liberal”, “Moderate” or “Conservative” members of the board. We are all of these labels depending on whatever the situation. The local media characterizes board members in particular situations and that is projected to the public. You can really throw those terms out of a Doyle building window. Speaking for myself, I believe board members can challenge the organization to improve but it takes the employees to get it done. It’s difficult to do that if as a leader of the organization your telling the employees how bad they are doing or don’t support their efforts. It is also difficult to have a school district that caters to 25,000 individual students. They all have different needs, wants, learning styles, challenges etc. Then add parents, teachers, staff, administration, community members, taxpayers, businesses, colleges, universities and others. Change is hard but needed. I’m all for making change, it’s just difficult to do using the media. However, I’m working to do that within the confines of the board meetings and not using the media. But I am blogging… (which is a form of media). Thank you for your post.

  2. I almost concur with both of your sentiments. The terms liberal, moderate, conservative should have no meanings, but it does in the world of political junkies and over-the-edge commentors. And the Media, controlled by these folks, is no place for intelligent and considered dialogue.
    A good blog site like this one can make a difference, so I’m very pleased you participate.
    I don’t know where others sit in the political spectrum, but the one label that seems to fit me is “left wing conservative”.
    Since we can almost have anything we want, but never everything we want, even in the best of financial times, the Board and the public cannot afford to waste substantial resources (some waste is inevitable, of course — it costs too much to be perfect).
    We need to ensure important outcomes are achieved, and one cannot do that if we waste resources: financial, teacher, our kids’ time, or by arguing and disagreeing on unimportant or trivial matters, etc.

  3. Just wanted to thank Larry Winkler for running in this last election. Indeed, I’m grateful to all who serve or seek to serve on this board. It’s a tough job.
    That said, I am especially grateful to those who are willing to challenge the status quo, regardless of political labels. If Madison is going to continue its tradition of great schools, we’re all going to have to “evolve”, to shake the dust off the way we think about educating our children.

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