I know it is sad, but I hadn't given much thought to my Jefferson County School Board election this year. I usually scan for such things in the week before the election and make up my mind then.
Well, choice came early for me in the form of Ben Foster, who is running against Larry Hujo for the spot. While I was waiting to pick up my daughter, Mr. Foster was wandering the school grounds, passing out campaign literature.
Since I tend to hate being given anything paper that I haven't asked for, I was angry to start with. Mr. Foster's campaign materials didn't make me any happier.
Seems Ben Foster is running against Larry Hujo because Hujo supported offering protection for gay and lesbian teachers.
I stuck my head out the window to say something and Mr. Foster turned away from me and kept going. For some reason, a voice in my head said, "I bet you he doesn't even have a kid in JCPS."
So I did some research. According to an October 15th endorsement of Hujo by the Courier Journal, Foster indeed does not have any kids in JCPS. His website, votefoster.net, hopes that you're not very skilled in numbers(sad for an accounting professor) when he points to escalating property tax revenues for JCPS, and seems to indicate that his major concern about the public schools (which again, his kids do NOT attend) don't spend too much of his money or let gay and lesbian teachers teach kids that aren't his.
So I wrote Mr. Foster an e-mail.
Dear Mr. Foster,
I want to express my dismay at you trespassing on the grounds of Farmer Elementary when you do not have a student there and using the car rider line to distribute your campaign materials. I'd also like to provide you with a list of reasons that I will NOT vote for you based on the information I have read about you in the Courier Journal and on your own website, http://votefoster.net.
1. According to the Courier Journal, you have chosen NOT to put your children in Jefferson County Public Schools. I find it difficult to understand how you can have the best interest of students or JCPS at heart when you won't even place your young children in the school system. And I don't understand how you'll be able to relate to the issues and concerns of normal parents that attend JCPS if you've never stepped foot inside of one as a parent.
2. The main concern of your whole campaign seems to be with the JCPS school board agreeing to protect gay and lesbian teachers from discrimination. Really? With all the issues in the world and within our school system, THAT is one of your top priorities? Can you point me to situations where a teacher's sexual orientation has created an issue that keeps them from being a competent teacher or threatened a child's well being?
3. Your website indicates that "JCPS revenue from property taxes increased over 100%" from 1998 to 2007." What you don't mention is that this time period also represents a tremendous boom in housing starts, housing prices, and commercial property development. Higher home prices and a higher number of developed properties means higher property tax revenue.
4. The pamphlet you handed out in the car rider line took issue with "spending efficiency -- $10,000 per student is enough". I can tell you that the facilities, teachers, and staff at Farmer Elementary are top notch, and as a parent who actually has students in JCPS, I don't see the waste you seem to assume is so rampant in the system.
5. You take issue with the JCTA and teachers unions on several fronts. While I certainly understand that the concerns of any teacher's union won't always reflect the interests I may have as a parent or a taxpayer, I also understand the need for a teachers union and the protection it provides. I also know that the teachers at Farmer Elementary are top notch, invest a lot of time, effort, and yes... their own money into their students and classrooms. They deserve and earn what they make.
As a person who received a top notch education within a public school system, I wanted to let you know that the materials you handed out offended me both morally and intellectually. The fact that your biggest concern (or at least the one you thought would frighten the most people into not voting your opponent) was your opponent's vote for protection of gay and lesbian teachers shows that you haven't a clue about what is important in the Jefferson County Public School system. I honestly hadn't given the school board vote a lot of thought. Thank you for encouraging me to cast a vote for your opponent.
I'll let you know if he responds.