A Candidate for the Hockinson School District Board of Directors, District 1
Bill Eling A Candidate for the Hockinson School District Board of Directors, District 1 “The Wrong Man, the Right Cause”
Running for a public office is not on my bucket list, particularly for an office requiring a large time commitment. At my age, there is no good personal reason to run for the school board. Even in less turbulent times, a school board director has a lot of work to do. But I’m doing this. I’m in. Why? It is the right cause.
Both the current incumbent Tim Hawkins and the other candidate Teresa VanNatta are good people and well-intentioned. Mr. Hawkins does not seem hesitant to speak his mind at board meetings. I am not running to oppose them. Elections are about issues and campaigns are about testing and comparing ideas in public. When you run for office, people pay attention. And I have something to say that you need to hear. I would be happy if both of them share my view of the issues.
The Initial Premise
I hope everyone agrees that education is critically important to our kids and our country. I would hate to think there is anyone who doesn’t. But is the education we are providing to kids the same education that taxpayers and parents expect? Is it the education that our kids deserve? Are the curricular priorities consistent with creating independent thinkers? Now that the COVID emergency has receded and there is evidence of successful therapeutic responses, what is the justification for the Zooming, the odd scheduling, distancing, masking?
Unfortunately, it seems that from every angle basic education is being diluted by lesson plans which bear little relationship to basic education or academics. There is only so much time in the school day. It makes little sense to cheat our students and burden our teachers by spending time on ideologically motivated curricula, especially when there is no public consensus for such curricula. What’s worse is that I believe the ideologies now imposed by the State of Washington and embraced and promoted by other organizations have no legitimate pedagogical purpose. They are based on false premises and promote false solutions. We never voted on these ideologies. In Washington [but unlike the situation in Loudon County, Virginia and elsewhere], the local school board is not independently responsible for these controversial curricular decisions. These decisions were made by people who think they know better. I don’t think they do. They need to show us the respect and make the case to us. Persuade us that all of these directives are crucial to education. Forget the mandates. Answer our questions.
The Covid 19 issues are difficult and the public health experts appear to have delegated the final Covid 19 related decisions to local school boards. But is it really delegated? While insisting it is the School Board’s sole and unilateral decision on “implementing” safety protocols, the experts still want to manage the decision. The experts do this by providing “guidance.” Because of the wording used in much of this guidance, it is often hard to know if the guidance is a “suggestion” or a “requirement.” Although DOH 820-105 does speaks of requirements, there appears to be wiggle-room even in its own guidelines. But can we have any confidence in either the requirements or the guidance. State guidance is often based on “guidance” from another alphabet agency who based its’ guidance on “guidance” from another alphabet agency. The problem is some of this guidance is questionable. Some of it political. And it is rarely explained or justified.
If elected to the Board I would insist that public health officials appear before the board to answer our questions and do so in public. I do not believe it is reasonable to make a Covid 19 decision without doing so. For instance, guidance typically states that the virus can be suppressed by a combination of universal masking, social distancing and hand hygiene. The question then is whether all three components are required and the scope of the requirement. For a masking strategy to be effective, does everyone need to wear them? Or can the number be less than 100%? I know many people are fearful. There needs to be an accommodation for that fear. But fear should not be the principal basis for a public policy decision.
Philosophy of Public Education
My approach to public education is based on three fundamental principles and if elected I will apply these principles to my decision-making.
The emphasis of public schools should be basic education, the principles enunciated in the current iteration of Revised Code of Washington 28A.150.210. End mission creep.
Public schools should be neutral and that neutrality should be evident in the school curriculum. This is especially true with regard to decisions regarding both children’s physical health and children’s moral health. It is also true for other matters. When there is no public consensus on a theory, it is not the school’s role to take a side. For example, if parents believe that the victim/oppressor paradigm implicit in ideologies like Critical Race Theory is the way to go, they can do that at home. A publicly funded program for everyone is not necessary. But if it is state-mandated, the District can and must take steps to remain neutral. The District can do this by including in local curriculum the facts and arguments which counter the mandated theory. Public schools should be neutral about “systemic racism.” For example, I don’t think there is credible evidence that HSD is systemically racist and prior directors, administrator, teachers or parents purposely engineered a system that is racist. It is not the duty of the school to accuse others of racism. And I reject the State of Washington’s presumption that my neighbors or that the residents of this State constitute cauldrons of racial animus, a presumption apparently reached without an examination of conscience or without a nose for irony.
Public schools are not parents and should avoid assuming parental responsibilities in health and morals. You know what I’m talking about. And the State wants this for grade school kids, little kids