Daily Bread for 3.23.23: The Whitewater School Board Election (2)

Good morning.

Thursday in Whitewater will see morning showers with a high of 46. Sunrise is 6:51 AM and sunset 7:11 PM for 12h 19m 45s of daytime. The moon is a waxing crescent with 3.9% of its visible disk illuminated.

 On this day in 1909, Theodore Roosevelt leaves New York for a post-presidency safari in Africa. The trip is sponsored by the Smithsonian Institution and National Geographic Society.

There are 14,889 residents in Whitewater proper, and 20,444 within the boundaries of the larger Whitewater Unified School District. Two decades ago, a challenge to a school district referendum would have been the most significant political and social event in the district.

No longer.

A recent operational referendum generated less controversy than other issues the district now faces. This libertarian blogger supported that referendum, writing that 

For many years, in confident conviction as FREE WHITEWATER’s libertarian blogger, I have opposed school referendums, notably capital ones, for the Whitewater Unified School District. It is with equal confidence that I now urge my fellow residents to support the Whitewater Schools’ 2022 operational referendum.  The well-being of our students will best be served through operational stability, and, once assured, that stability will offer time for methodical adjustments in the district’s operation.

The rejection of this operational referendum — one that simply allows the district to continue needed services day-to-day — would plunge this district’s residents into destructive, internecine strife over budgets from one year to the next. Our community, managing through multiple challenges, would make no better choices, and find no better solutions, in the chaotic, uncertain political environment after a failed operational referendum. 

There is a profound difference between wanting change and fomenting disorder. We cannot burn this village to save it. Many years ago, using a different metaphor, the noted libertarian Sheldon Richman proposed that the only way to manage the ‘onion’ of government was to smash it completely. He was wrong: a reasonable man peels away parts of government deliberately and methodically only after careful reflection. Opposition to this referendum is an unreasonable smashing in the place of careful peeling.

See In Support of the Whitewater Schools’ Operational Referendum

It’s telling — and practical of the candidates at the March candidates’ forum for the Whitewater Schools’ board  — that not one of them made referendum questions the centerpiece of his or her remarks.

See Whitewater Schools’ Candidates’ Forum 3.11.23, video at 1:16:22 for a question about referendum spending (“As a member of the school board, will you support a future referendum to exceed revenue limits? If so, where would you direct this additional funding? And what will you do to address the rural community’s discontent with board spending habits and stop the 30 plus years of continuous referendums?’)   

Of course these candidates did not focus on yesterday’s bugbear. Although proponents of future referendums might see the success of the last referendum as a sign of progress, it’s nothing of the kind. Instead, a majority in this community understands, sensibly, that there are worse challenges before this district, and this community, than school spending

That’s not progress, however. It’s triage.

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11 months ago

Triage is an accurate way to describe how more than one elected body finds itself in our community. One hopes there can be reactive and candid acknowledgement of current challenges as well as proactive and thoughtful planning to address and overcome them in the future. One also hopes that no matter the outcome that a professional and accountable school board finds itself sworn in next month – we no longer have the luxury of remaining enmired in controversy when the needs are so very great all around us. How can we as a community sleep soundly at night when our own school district is perilously close(in this reader’s opinion) to the student success(lack thereof) metrics of Chicago?