Votes and Letters to the Editor

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In America, especially, people seem to learn things the hard way.

That is how many of us learned not to vote. Finally we realized that by voting, we tightened the federal noose about our collective necks. By voting, we provided the PowersThatBe with the pretense they needed; the illusion that we had been given ample opportunities to make our wishes known. The winners (certainly not We, the Voters) make evermore-dastardly decisions about our lives, justifying those very actions with the phony claim that We the Voters gave them legitimacy.

Voting has become yet another State scheme involving smoke & mirrors. In the mirrors we see ourselves as Patriots turning out at the polling places, doing our duty to God and Country. Under the cover of smoke, two parties shake hands and cheer their secret process — “If we win, we win; If we lose we still win! When two parties can pretend to be enemies and trick people into voting between two pals/two buddies/two frat brothers — Twiddle-Dee-Dumb and Twiddle-Dee-Dumber — the populace has failed to notice that it has been had. If fact, we have been had at two-year intervals for a long, long time.

I am presently in the process of learning not to write letters to editors of newspapers, either. Despite reassurances that “all letters are welcome,” I am finding that those expressing opinions contrary to the BIAS of the papers often do not get their letters printed, or if the letters are printed, they will be delayed until the heat has cooled from a burning issue.

Case in point: Marion, Michigan, home of the Marion School District, is currently embroiled in controversy that may come to a head with tomorrow’s election (11-08-2005). A group of citizens is seeking to recall five (5) of the seven school board members. The other two members earlier won landslide elections — one as a write-in — ousting two others who had been serving with these five.

The school board members have been accused of: taking the district into financial ruin through a very expensive Buy-Out plan for older teachers; unethically handling the teacher buyout by showing favoritism to the superintendent (who for years had vowed to never offer a buyout, and never did until the year he, himself, retired, walking away with over $100,000) and a principal who had not worked for the district long enough to qualify but walked away with $49,000, anyway; for supporting a principal accused of harassing (and worse) staff while showing favoritism in hiring/unfairness in firing personnel.

It took the recall committee only days to collect the 297 signatures that were needed to get the recalls on the ballot. In fact, “in just 18 days, approximately 441 signatures were collected for Barb Kirkby, 430 for Lynn Salinas, 420 for Dean Holmes, 403 for Chris McCrimmon, and 364 for Bruce Tower.” Not bad for a very small, rural community.

Since our main home is in that district, I have a right to hold opinions on the issues. Since I worked in that district for nine years, and was one of the teachers who took the buyout, I have knowledge of what went on during the process and wish to address several aspects.

I wanted to express concern that each time there is an opening for a school counselor, the administration and school board refuses to promote Mrs. Dixie Landers, loyal and long-term Marion employee who spent the time and money to earn her master’s degree in school counseling. The school district hired a person with no degree in school counseling and no teaching experience! The MEA did nothing! The MEA never supports Mrs. Landers’ applications for the openings despite the fact that she is skilled, qualified, and has been working for the Marion School District and paying union dues for well over a decade. The NEA/MEA also refused to help a certified teacher get the position as varsity boys basketball coach. It has been over a decade now, and the school still employs a worker from the local natural gas company to be the coach while a certified, dues-paying union member wants the job! Can you imagine supervision at J.I. Case or another UAW plant hiring outsiders instead of promoting qualified union members? There would be hell to pay! (I’ve always wondered why the NEA helps locals write weak contracts then refuses to help, pointing to the worthless paper and saying, “It’s not in the contract.” They write watertight documents that detail the rules for Closed-Shops and Dues-Paying.)

I want to remind the voters that at the May, 2004 school board meeting, the exiting superintendent answered my question regarding the financial situation at the district, by saying that there was $1.2 million dollars in the savings account. That was only days before the Buyout papers were signed. The district borrowed the money for the buyouts and eight of us (including the superintendent and 7-year principal) left. When I asked why the district was going into debt rather than using the $1.2 million, I was told by the superintendent that the savings were tied up in interest earning accounts and it was cheaper to borrow other money. When the new superintendent arrived that summer, the district was in financial trouble. The saving accounts were nearly empty, the debts were heavy, and no one would or could say where the $1.2 million had gone. Teachers accepted diminished contracts based on the district’s assurance that there were no funds for raises. Now it has come to my attention that the district recently found half a million dollars. Does that negate the teacher contracts since the district may have bargained in bad faith??

I have lots of questions; lots of concerns; lots of comments. My letters do not get printed. I can understand. My recent letter would have totally spoiled the slant of the “Letters to the Editor” pages leading up to this election — those pages that come across as free advertisements for the district.

Our letters are totally ignored by The Marion Press; rejected by The Cadillac Evening News. We have sent them by mail. We have sent them by Internet. How disgusting and how discouraging.

Yes, I have stopped voting and now I may never write another Letter to the Editor (Oh, don’t they wish…).

Wait a minute…on second thought…Voters in the Marion School District should go ahead and vote at least one more time. In small elections like this one, a vote stands a better chance of being counted, and the recall of the five school board members would make a difference in the quality of life for that community. This election will not only serve to improve the present, but will hopefully protect the future of the children who now attend, and will later attend, Marion Public Schools. Yeah…Go vote!

Linda Schrock Taylor [send her mail] is an educational consultant, homeschooling mom, and public school special ed teacher. She is available for presentations, inservices, and workshops.

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