As part of my candidacy for this state representative seat, I have made it a point to sit down with as many local elected officials and stakeholders as possible, so as to better understand their needs and the nature of their relationship with the state. Meeting with the four school superintendents of District 73 (Bellbrook, Beavercreek, Fairborn, Yellow Springs) as well as administrators from the Greene County Educational Service Center, revealed much to me about what those current relationships are like, and what I could do, as the next State Representative, to make them better.
Over and over, I listened to them share their stories and ideas on how they are striving to improve the learning conditions for our children, as well as the struggles and impediments they face in accomplishing that. We really are fortunate to have such dedicated and passionate leaders, as they help guide our districts into the future. The way they are able to make do with what they are given is an incredible testament to them, and as a mother of three school aged children, I am grateful for their continued leadership under less than ideal conditions.
Of all the stories and insights shared with me, perhaps the one that most sticks out is one that a local school superintendent shared with me. He had been asked by a state lawmaker to read over a 200 page bill and to provide him with his appraisal of the bill, with less than a day’s notice to do it. This superintendent spent nearly 3 hours that evening looking over the bill, and reported back to the lawmaker his opinion, that this was *not* a good bill, and it would not be effective at addressing the issues it claimed to be resolving. The response he received back? He was thanked for spending so much of his personal time on it, but unfortunately, this lawmaker was going to have to vote for it anyway, because he had already promised the author of the bill his vote, in exchange for their vote on a bill of his own that was coming up.
This is what a broken system looks like, one that ensures that our laws are not going to be beneficial for those whom they claim to be for. This is not, nor should not, be how our democracy is supposed to work.
Our schools and our kids deserve our full attention. My opponent likes to continually lament the proportion of the state budget that is dedicated to our children’s schools. Since the constitutional mandate to provide “a thorough and efficient system of common schools throughout the state” belongs to Columbus, I would think that the education of our children should rightfully so be THE priority of our Statehouse. It should not be used as a mechanism for balancing a budget, just because our teachers don’t have the high-powered lobbyists that are available to other industries.
There was definitely an overall high level of frustration that I sensed between the administrators, and the lawmakers in Columbus. As someone long active in community affairs, I know that the wealth of knowledge regarding any particular issue is going to be found on the front lines, with those who show up every day and do what needs to be done.
When I am elected, I will work to offer our school administrators and educators the respect that they deserve. I will continue to listen to their experiences and use them to help form policy, as opposed to pushing laws from an office far removed from any classroom, without regard to those who have to enforce these new rules on a daily basis.