Letter: Candidates manipulated K-5 discussions

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To The Editor:

As an attendee at the UCFSD School Board meeting on Monday night, I was touched by Timotha Trigg’s comments at the end of the meeting.  School directors work hard on behalf of the entire community.  They get massive amounts of e-mails and many of those are complaints or problems that need to be resolved or solved.  They deal with unfunded mandates, litigation cases involving the school district, local ordinances that somebody forgot to check, candidate searches, labor contracts and a whole host of real and immediate issues.  They give countless hours to meetings and reading long, boring documents practically capable of curing insomnia. This is a thankless job, selflessly performed by unpaid volunteers.  Last night just happened to be a celebration of 18 years for Dr. Sweeney.

What do School Directors get for their efforts?  They get hysteria, rancor, angry and nasty comments hurled at them at a public meeting.  Instead of calmly stopping to think about what the Board might even be considering, these residents allowed themselves to be whipped up into a nasty, angry group with a frenzy of accusations.  Instead of stopping to think strategically about what a study might provide in the long and short term, they allowed themselves to be the emotional, nasty surrogates for school board candidates in the next election.  As a distinctly proud and partisan Democrat, I have worked on campaign after campaign over many years in this community.  I’ve been told that “we don’t like to talk about politics in Unionville” or we don’t like it when people “make things political.”  It’s as if politics were somehow dirty or beneath people instead of the cornerstone of our cherished democracy.

So, in this community, you deliberately scare people to the polls by non-issues you gin up so you don’t have look like a “politician.”  Tell them that they will have four kids in four different schools on four different buses at four different times and make sure you throw in that how hard it will be for you to attend four different PTO meetings!  Fuel the emotion with talk about Johnny walking hand in hand with his darling baby sister in kindergarten.  Make sure you enlist a couple of teachers who are still smarting from the protracted contract negotiations to bolster your efforts.  Throw in a few people upset over Sharon Parker’s leaving who are sure it was a sinister plot instead of a sixty-something year old woman who wants to do other things including spending time with grandchildren.

If you are against reconfiguration, it would have been smart to stop the emotional, vitriolic rants and support a study.  People who are so confident of their position should be able to see that the study would support their position and provide long-term ammunition the next time the subject is even remotely considered.  Strategically and in the long term, this would force the issue off the table.  Now, your hysterics have literally played into the hands of those who ARE intent on re-configuration.  Without a study, this issue can be reintroduced at any time and pushed without regard to the kinds of real facts that a study would have produced.  Let’s think logically about this and not allow ourselves to be manipulated or scared by political candidates for their own selfish purposes.

Kristin Hoover
Pocopson

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