Emerald Isle, N.C.
Nov. 9, 2019
TO THE EDITOR:
In response to Sunday’s letter from John Droz Jr., I understand his issue with citing political partisanship as the cause for problems within the Board of Education (BOE). Truthfully, it’s very much a local problem that can’t be blamed on any one political party or ideology. What it does stem from is a desire by a few elected leaders in our county to control all aspects or our local government.
When you have our current county commissioners quoted in the newspaper about their success in recruiting candidates for the BOE that indicates a problem. The BOE should be independent from the county commissioners to make decisions based solely on the needs of our students and staff within the Carteret County School System.
Now it just so happens that our commissioners are all Republican and at a recent GOP meeting it was mentioned that they already had $5K ready to back someone who would toe the line. Does this feel like a political agenda of sorts? Seems like that would have a person in the seat who would be beholden to a benefactor and their agendas. Just as we need to have a balance of power at the federal level, we must ensure that the same is true for our state and local governments.
In all transparency, I am currently running for the District 4 seat on the BOE as a Republican. But I was not recruited by the party; I signed up out of concern for our schools and students. I have four boys ranging in age from 7-15. I am able to see the issues facing our administrators, teachers and school staff on a daily basis. It can be easy to take the 10,000-foot view of our schools and think high test scores mean ultimate success, but our schools, teachers, and students are so much more than a EOG test score.
Luckily we had a wonderful superintendent with Mat Bottoms, who was able to recruit and retain an amazing team of school administrators who in turn were able to attract the best teachers in the state. Our BOE can’t take credit for our ranking in N.C. This belongs to our teachers and administrators who, day in and day out, pour everything they have into our children. These are the same people who don’t feel comfortable speaking out to the BOE as they know dissension can mean loss of a job. How is that healthy for our county? How is having our extremely successful superintendent “retire” when we know he isn’t done? The people who are responsible for our successful schools are not being valued while those who have no hand in the success are taking all of the accolades.
So yes, this isn’t really about political party. It’s about some people leveraging their place within a political party to control others. It’s forgetting that we need a mix of opinions to allow debate, which in turn helps us find truth. Debate causes us to think analytically, mindful of facts and emotions, on both sides of the issue. This allows participants to engage in an exchange of ideas with the goal being a fusion of ideas which represents the best contributions of ALL participants. Otherwise, we just have rhetoric.
We want the county commissioners to have an opinion — they are there to focus on the very difficult job of a countywide budget. But we want a BOE to be focused on students and to advocate for our schools. Together, with various opinions we can reach a synthesis of ideas that represents our best options. This is NOT what we currently have, which is a BOE controlled by the commissioners, which means no debate and no mix of opinions.
So if you’ve hung in with me long enough to read this lengthy letter, I ask that you examine what is happening in our county. Who is “appointing” whom in our leadership positions and what are their connections? Please don’t turn a blind eye to what is happening and vote March 3rd. We can turn this around; it’s not too late.
ANDREA PHILLIPS BEASLEY