Saturday, March 29, 2008

Time to go out on a limb

The Kenosha News sure went out on a limb when it endorsed Carl Bryan, an 18-year-old high school student, over retired teacher JoAnne Taube, for one of two Kenosha Unified School Board sets up for election.

In a refreshing bit of candor, the newspaper concedes there's growing frustration over how the district is being run and perhaps it's time for a new face:

Taube, 65, taught elementary music at schools all over the district for 40
years. She has been active in the Kenosha Education Association and served three
years as president. She has also served on numerous committees, including
some of the difficult ones, such the boundary committee that is charged with
recommending new borders for school attendance areas. Taube has paid her dues,
and she is probably at least as familiar with issues in the district as most of
the current members of the School Board.

Yet we find the need to send a message to the School Board that the
voters want something different. The election of Carl Bryan, a candidate who is
still in school, is the best way to send that message.

Residents of the district are frustrated by the lack of progress on so
many fronts that it's hard to keep count. The graduation rate is disappointing,
the test scores are disappointing, attendance isn't good, the performance gap
between racial groups is frustrating and improvements, where there has been
improvements, have been small.

Bryan admits he was taken by surprise by some of the questions at forums in
the beginning of the campaign, but he has been learning as he goes along. He
said the board needs a fresh perspective that he can provide, and he said he is
eager to demonstrate that his education in this school district has prepared him
for this challenge. We think that demonstration, if successful, would be
reassuring to district residents.

I'm not sure I share all of the newspaper's enthusiasm -- Bryan's mother is a teacher and he could come on the board with his own set of biases -- but there is some merit in putting an "end-user" on the board. It's been a long-time since Mark Hunter, now a police lieutenant in Pleasant Prairie, fulfilled that role. Maybe it's time to give Bryan the same shot.

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