Source: Sherman Publications

Opinions
Editorial: Vote Thomas, Kempner for school board

October 27, 2010

Government works best when there’s a system of checks and balances in place.

This is important so that no one side – be it a majority or a minority – can completely get their way all the time.

When one faction is allowed to rule without question and without limits, democracy quickly gives way to tyranny.

The idea of having checks and balances is as necessary at the local level as it is at the state and federal levels.

Right now, the Oxford school district has no effective system of checks and balances.

The way it’s worked since 2007 is the superintendent wants something, the school board agrees (usually unanimously), praises his “vision” and he gets his way.

You can set your watch by it.

But don’t just take our word for it.

When Major Murray resigned from the school board in June 2008, he told this paper, “The administration is setting the agenda and the board is acquiescing . . . I saw the board reverse itself on two items within a year because one superintendent put it one way and then another superintendent put it another way.”

“All you have to do is count up the votes since I’ve been on (the board),” he said. “If there’s a dissenting opinion, it’s mine.”

Murray indicated that even though the superintendent is trying to do what he believes is right, he needs a “strong counterweight” because “the goodness of his goals” should not negate the need for real discussion and debate before plans are implemented.

We wholeheartedly agree and that’s why we’re strongly endorsing Bryan Thomas and Lisa Kempner for the two school board seats.

Both of these candidates are asking questions, offering opposing viewpoints and being openly critical of the superintendent’s agenda.

They’re thinking for themselves. They’re not being told what to think and what to say.

None of these things are happening with the current school board because everyone’s too busy either nodding their heads in complete agreement or piling on anyone who dares to disagree or offer criticism.

Somewhere along the way it was decided that dissent was a bad thing.

Folks used to believe that it was healthy and normal for people to disagree.

Now, we’re told that’s negative thinking and we must be positive at all times if we want to get to the mountain top.

But good government does not come from constant conformity and mind-numbing unanimity.

It comes from conflicts, debates and disagreements, all of which should take place out in the open, not behind closed doors.

Democracy is a messy process, but from that chaos springs new ideas, fair compromises and solutions that take everyone’s point of view into consideration.

We believe having more 5-2 votes would do the school district and the superintendent some good. – CJC