Daily Bread for 5.2.23: What’s the Whitewater Unified School District Board’s Mandate?

Good morning.

Tuesday in Whitewater will be cloudy with a high of 50. Sunrise is 5:46 AM and sunset 7:56 PM for 14h 10m 26s of daytime. The moon is a waxing gibbous with 88.8% of its visible disk illuminated.

Whitewater’s Common Council meets at 6:30 PM

On this day in 1986, the City of Chernobyl is evacuated six days after the Chernobyl disaster.

Following the April elections, what’s the electoral mandate for the Whitewater Unified School District’s board majority?

First, and obviously, there’s no electoral mandate in following the laws of the United States, statutes of the State of Wisconsin, or policies of the Whitewater Unified School District. A board is so required to do so at any and all times. Obligations to existing law and policy do not change merely because Whitewater has new board members. 

What electoral mandate, however, does this new board majority (Larry Kachel, Stephanie Hicks, Maryann Zimmerman, and Christy Linse) have? A candidate’s mandate from voters requires a political issue, expressly presented to the electorate during the campaign, on which the successful candidate campaigned. While not all of the new board majority ran for election in April, this four-person majority depends on the support of two candidates (Hicks, Linse) who were successful in April. 

The best and most complete place to look for candidates’ positions presented to the electorate would be their remarks at the 3.11.23 candidate forum and in response to the questionnaire from Fort Atkinson Online that they (and others) completed before the primary.

The Candidate Forum.

There were six questions from the candidate forum, along with opening and closing statements. 

Opening Statements, 7:50.

Question 1, 19:31: Are you committed to a yearly survey of families, students, graduates, community residents, faculty and staff about what they see as major strengths or shortcomings of the district and its schools. And are you committed to publicly sharing the results?

Question 2, 30:17: How do you plan to address low ACT scores, and below proficient scores in math and reading?

Question 3, 42:17: Would you support a dual language program in schools? And does our district and community have the resources to put in dual language learning?

Question 4, 54:46: Minority and LGBT students exist in this community and deserve respect and to not feel ostracized. Can you commit to supporting all Whitewater students and making sure they have a voice? And then how would you work to make sure all students are accepted and supported?

Question 5, 1:05:45: What is CRT to you? How does it differ from teaching the real and sometimes harsh truth of American history? And what is your opinion of having CRT, woke, and D E I in the Whitewater United Unified School District schools (DEI standing for diversity, equity and inclusion)?

Question 6, 1:16:22: 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?

Closing Statements, 1:26:26.

The Voters’ Guide. Each of the successful candidates (and the rest of the primary field) provided biographical information and answered four principal questions from Fort Atkinson Online. 

It is from these plain answers online and in a public forum that one can see what mattered most to the candidates when they were before the voters. They were free to say whatever they wanted, and their answers to what they felt mattered most to them.

Topics well-known in the community before the election but unaddressed by the candidates before the election would not, and should not, be counted as a mandate for the winning candidates (or the board majority of which two of these candidates are a part).  

Now, as it turns out, there’s a community faction that wants to blame immigrants, diversity programming, books & subjects, etc., for problems in the district. Fair enough: factions of residents can pick their issues as they wish. 

The winning candidates, however, including two on whom the board majority depends, did not run plainly on those issues. Not at all. 

If the board majority now decides to embark on policies that might have been raised during the election but were not, then that majority owes the community a thorough explanation why those policies are being advanced only after the election.

A mandate comes from positions on which a candidate runs, not those he or she ignores.

Tomorrow: What about Management of the Whitewater Unified School District? Wasn’t That an Issue?  

Planets and the moon pair up in May 2023 skywatching:

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