Do You Recall?

October 25, 2007 at 1:35pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

Hawthorne’s supporters are talking about a recall to get back at the School Board members they disagree with. That’s a great civics lesson to teach the kids, isn’t it? Forget regular elections, if you don’t like an elected representative’s single vote, just try to kick ‘em out right then and there. (And even if you don’t succeed in booting them, at least you’ve intimidated them a bit.) Personally, I prefer to reserve recalls for more serious matters than simple policy disagreements.

Not that I don’t have some sympathy for Hawthorne’s supporters. I do. But then they go and say things like this quote from Chip Stanley:

“We want representatives that think for themselves and listen to their constituents.”

I have to suspect Mr. Stanley doesn’t really want his representatives to think for themselves. He wants them to think like him. Now, that’s not an atypical attitude. Of course we want our reps to vote the way we want them to vote. But is the best response to pout and demand a recall whenever things don’t go our way on a major issue? Besides, Board members clearly did “listen” to their constituents, both literally, and in the sense that they fielded phone calls, read e-mails and, presumably, followed the coverage in the news.

Mr. Stanley goes on to levy an accusation at Board members:

“We’re tired of a rubber stamp board that is doing the will of (Lincoln Public Schools Superintendent) Susan Gourley and the administration.”

I wasn’t aware that Dr. Gourley ruled over the Board with such an iron fist. Can anybody with knowledge of LPS confirm or deny the “rubber stamp” charge?

In the end, I have to suspect that any recall effort will fail. My guess is that most Lincolnites desire efficiency and cost savings more than they desire Hawthorne to remain an elementary school. If the recall is going to succeed, supporters will need to make the case that the Board’s vote will cost more than it will save.

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The Comments

CP October 25, 2007 at 4:14pm

I disagree with the “rubber stamp” idea.

A school district (and I’ve worked in a few) is no diferent than any other business. Dr. Gourley is simply the face (CEO) of the school district.

Many talented people in our schools and district office come up with ideas and strategies to implement them. Like any other business, there are many layers of beurocracy. You talk to your immediate supervisor (Principal, Dept. Head, Curricular Area Specialist, etc.) about the idea. They talk to their supervisor (Asst. Superintendant, etc.) Eventually it gets to Dr. Gourley, but only after it has been vetted at many levels. If the idea is not good, it would hopefully get shot down early on.
Otherwise, if the district staff are doing their job there should be a pretty convincing case that the “thing” should happen as prescripted. Therfore, the percieved “rubber stamp” effect.

This is not to say that there should not be public comment. The School Board’s mission is to hear the voice of the community, and balance that with what is best for the organization. I would hope that they would be doing that in every case. Especially in high profile cases like this.

Gene October 25, 2007 at 6:23pm

There were a ton of public hearings and opportunities for the public to make their feelings known. This is pretty dumb. Similar to the recall effort that failed in Ashland.

Fletch October 25, 2007 at 7:37pm

This is horrible - a recall is a terrible idea. I think they do speak for the constituents—ALL of them. The needs of the many outweight the needs of the few. I would guess, if polled, the public would close the schools and use those teachers and administrators at new locations soon to open up. I think if they push the recall, they stand to turn some of the public support they may have on their side against them. Just be unhappy with the decision and move on.

isotope October 25, 2007 at 8:57pm

I’m not real familiar with Hawthorne, but am with Dawes. The way Northeast Lincoln is growing, and with all the new development going in around north 84th, I can’t understand the logic of trying to close Dawes. Mickle is already crowded, even when using portables (in MHO, if you’re using portables, you’ve exceeded a school’s capacity). If you close Dawes, where are all the new kids from those new neighborhoods going to go? Waverly?

It’s not just people “unhappy” with a decision. It’s people feeling that we’re backing ourselves into corners with overcrowded schools, and that we’re not looking at the best solutions for our kids and families. These decisions affect not just a neighborhood, but the city as a whole.

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