To the Editor:
We're lucky in Berkeley to have many dedicated people running for school board. Historically, Berkeley School Board elections have been collegial and polite. Candidates are generally distinguished, community-oriented individuals who are treated fairly by the press. All of that changed when the Daily Planet ran a front-page article on July 3 with the provocative headline “Parents shun school board candidate.” The article was about the Berkeley High School Parent Teacher Student Association election. Clearly, the reporter gave someone who had an ax to grind a platform to do so, because the article included anonymous hostile opinions which hurt me both personally and politically. He balanced the article by including positive comments made by and about me, and I’ve been told by many people that I came out looking great, but the story was chock full of gossip. Who would want to run for the board if the newspaper publishes anonymous negative personal opinions of the candidates? I’d like to stay away from mudslinging in this school board election, and instead focus on issues, of which there are plenty.
As the Berkeley PTA Council Parliamentarian it is my job to help all 15 of the Berkeley PTAs operate according to their bylaws. I respectfully asked the high school PTSA president to hold a proper election of new officers. Sadly, the PTSA president and a few others didn't want a proper election or my help; they disrespected me and others and opposed the election (interestingly, the opposition included a current school board member and the PTSA treasurer, who is blatantly violating the PTSA's own two-year term limit by serving an eighth term). Change can be difficult, and a PTA can become inbred, and exclusive, shunning new ideas and leadership. New leadership is vital to the health of any PTA, and every Berkeley school deserves a strong, democratic PTA. We held the election, and have a new BHS PTSA board which is large, diverse, and energetic. True to its name, there are students and teachers on the board as well as parents. I'm proud of having stuck my neck out to force this positive change to happen. The board is planning wonderful events for the new school year.
I’m running for school board because I want to improve our schools for the benefit of all children. I believe that Berkeley can have the best schools in the state. I want to assure my supporters that I will work hard to win the election. I'm looking forward to an exciting, rewarding school board race. Thank you.