To once again dispel some of the misconceptions surrounding the school board recall:
This recall will not cost money that would otherwise be budgeted for students - its source is a contingency fund that exists solely in case of such an emergency. Contingency funds are never part of the student budget.
This recall is not about the restructuring decision itself, but about the history of decision making that culminated with it. Does the district have a long-term plan, of which this restructure is a part? For instance, why design a bond that includes building a brand new elementary school, only to close two of the existing elementaries in the next three years, one of which (Capt. Robert Gray) was remodeled at a cost of $1.2 million? This shows a lack of vision and long-term planning, even in light of unstable funding.
This recall is not about misplaced blame over Oregon's awful education funding, but about how the money we have has been budgeted. Local concerns are about local decisions. Alternatives to grade leveling were proposed that made similar cuts and did not eliminate neighborhood K-6 schools. Radical changes to our school system in the past five years include large-scale teacher turnover due to retirements, loss of building specialists, no single principal in a building for five years running, shifting of the sixth grade with almost no public input, two school buildings closed, and a newly constructed K-5 school, which will now house physically larger fourth-, fifth-, and sixth-graders. If schools are being run as businesses for financial reasons, then like any business's shareholders, we require vision, long-range planning and financial accountability.
Grade leveling is not a panacea for our financial or educational problems. It is questionable educationally, and we have yet to see the real financial costs - with soaring fuel costs, the added transportation alone is an irresponsible use of state and federal dollars.
It is both interesting and frightening to hear the argument regarding the recall issue, made even by this newspaper, that the sole job of the citizen is to vote, and then wait until the next election to vote again.
Our job is not, and should not, be that easy. We now live in a culture that discourages dissent, or questioning of any official activity - we are a microcosm of our nation in this way. The recall process is part of our democratic system, so that citizens have some way to hold elected officials accountable for their actions. It is hardly appropriate to imply that the citizen's role is limited to voting, and then is finished until the next election.
Whether you vote to recall or not, appreciate and understand that democracy is working, and that the reality of it is never easy on anyone. As renowned public school reformer Deborah Meier points out, "Democracy demands we acknowledge everyone's inalienable capacity to count in the larger scheme of things. And democracy is messy."