Archive for Thursday, March 16, 2000

School board owes explanations to all

March 16, 2000

The DeSoto Board of Education's recent policy, stipulating that all questions on any issue must be presented to a board spokesperson - a single, unified voice - goes against the very basics of our political process.

Elected officials represent the community that voted them into office. These officials are accountable to the people. They are expected to explain their civic actions. They owe that much to the members of the community.

That's the way things are done in the United States, where a Democratic system ensures that the voices of all people are heard and represented.

The media represents the people, too. It serves as the voice of the people. It puts itself in a position to ask the questions. Therefore, every school board member is accountable to the media.

Sadly, the DeSoto school board doesn't share this opinion.

"If it's a 4-3 vote on something and (the media) wants to know why we voted like that, that's too bad," said board member Curtis Allenbrand.

Actually, it's too bad Allenbrand feels that way. If he doesn't believe he owes an explanation for every vote he takes, he has no understanding of why he is sitting on the school board.

We do not elect school board coalitions in a single election. We elect individuals to serve on these boards. These individuals are elected because they share the views and opinions of the people they serve.

When an elected official believes he or she owes nothing to the people he represents, it is time for him or her to step down.

While we agree that an elected body, just like any team, runs more smoothly when there is unity, there is a vast difference between unity and solidarity. These bodies have to function as single units, while still featuring a number of individual voices. The challenge of all elected bodies and those who serve on them is operating as a unit while maintaining the individual views and opinions of their constituents.

When our elected officials stop living up to this challenge, an elected body becomes nothing more than a rubber stamp.

We urge the DeSoto school board to stop acting as a rubber stamp.

The people of DeSoto and parts of Shawnee, Lenexa and Olathe deserve better.

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