Elections have consequences. In most cases, the consequences are policy shifts resulting from honest differences of opinion or philosophy, ones that get sorted out the next time an election rolls around.
You can see that in action in Riverside District 96, where voters chose candidates who made clear they were not aligned with the present board majority. When the new board is seated in District 96, after the results are certified, that board may very well have a new president.
But if that does turn out to be the case, there won’t be any harm done to the district or the children learning in the schools, because in the end all of the board members know that this is all about education.
In LaGrange District 102, a longtime incumbent was turned out of office and the current board president chose not to run after failing to win an endorsement from the influential Delegate Assembly.
Yet, no one in District 102 is fearful that the next school board won’t be focused on the education of students and the financial health of the district. Joyce Fitch, who was the odd woman out in a five-person race for four seats, sounded positively optimistic about the district’s future despite losing the election.
Which brings us to Lyons-Brookfield District 103, where a slate of candidates backed by Lyons Village President Christopher Getty all but wiped the floor with seven challengers and will be sworn in with a majority we surmise will be impenetrable. It wasn’t because the slate was chock full of swell ideas about education.
It was because without a challenge to their power on the village board, the Lyons political establishment made a full-frontal assault to capture the school board. While it’s not clear yet whose money and how much was spent by the “Parents for Student Excellence” during the campaign, it’s clear a lot of money got spent and a lot of political muscle was called in to make sure of the result.
The slate sent out a raft of direct mail pieces, printed lots of yard signs, spent money advertising in a friendly area newspaper and used foot soldiers to serve as campaigners and polling place workers, passing out slick, glossy palm cards.
If this campaign was about education, we’re here to say Parents for Student Excellence is going to have to prove it. Because it looks like a transparent power grab, along the lines of Morton District 201.
Parents for Excellence made a lot of hay criticizing past boards and administrations for the performance of the district’s students. We’d say that those criticisms might be legitimate if we had any confidence that the new school board is going to be interested in making the kinds of education changes that will make a positive difference.
Our guess is that the first orders of business will be actions like hiring a connected law firm and beginning to change ways the district spends its money for vendors and services.
We’ll be very interested to see who the real winners are from the 2015 election. We may hope it will be the children of District 103, but we’re betting it’ll be the adults.