Although you will be reading this column a couple of weeks hence, I am actually sitting down to write it with my quill pen and by candlelight on the hallowed eve of “All Tax Day,” or, as I call it, “The Feast of St. Taxes from a D.C.”
Americans have come to know and loathe April 15. If Julius Caesar only knew how much better he had it on the Ides of March; Brutus could have added insult to injury by doing his deed on the Ides of April instead.
We can’t honestly complain about taxation without representation, as our forefathers did (I’m still looking for three of mine). We vote, or choose not to vote, often enough, so I suppose we get the government we deserve.
For example, already in 1996 in Lake Highlands, we have been given three opportunities to cast votes: the Super Tuesday primary, the not-so super run-off, and yet one more chance to vote on May 4 for a new state senator to replace retiring John Leedom, as well as the perennial RISD school board races.
The 1996 edition of backlash against RISD administration pits challengers Jim Pasant and Tim Schmidt against Betty Stripling in Place 7. The common theme in both campaigns is that the RISD Board members do not effectively represent their constituents, but rather take their cue from the administration.
Phillips is a young CPA and product of RISD with two kids, one of whom attends the famous Greenwood Hills Elementary School. He experienced the Board’s non-responsiveness first-hand, when the Board’s February “space needs” report proclaimed the sanctity of neighborhood schools and then proceeded to announce the conversion of his neighborhood elementary school into the learning center for kids with behavioral and disciplinary problems. This one issue became a revelation of sorts to Phillips, and he decided that it was time for a change.
Coincidentally, Pasant also was inspired to run in response to the Board’s “space needs” plan, which occurred on February 14 and is affectionately referred to by critics as the “Valentines Day Massacre.” Pasant, too, has felt disenfranchised by the lack of representation on the Board. He wonders about the commitment to spend millions of dollars on computers and other forms of technology, when there is such a need for kids to know the basics, in order for the tools of technology to be useful. He believes that computers are not the “answer” to the problems of education.
One third-grade teacher, Pasant reports, does not teach multiplication tables because that is too mundane, so instead she teaches “higher-math concepts.” How about humoring us mundane taxpayers and teaching a little “2×2”?
A particularly irritating decision by the current Board was a calculated move to name Vernon Johnson’s replacement as superintendent before the May 4 election, depriving the newly-elected Board members from having a voice in the decision. The Board chose interim superintendent Carolyn Bukhair on April 19. With the school year almost over and the election only two weeks away, you would think the better course would have been to wait. But that’s politics, and school board races, like all elections for public office, are political.
In the April Dallas Morning News article on the selection of Dr. Bukhair, Board member Paula Hobbs was quoted as saying that Dr. Bukhair is “pro-child.” Well, now there’s a good thing for a school superintendent to be. That’s like being pro-law enforcement and running for sheriff or pro-Dallas and running for city council.
Dr. Bukhair has acknowledged and others have forewarned there will be a bond election this fall for about $100 to $150 million. Candidates Phillips and Pasant are skeptical about the way the bond proposal is currently structured. Sounds like there may be some bid money on the line, and it might be a good idea to have at least one skeptic in the crowd.
If you missed the first two polling place parties, it’s never too late to start a good habit.
Dust off that card and pursue some life, liberty and happiness on May 4.