Pearland Independent School District – 23 campuses and 2,700 full-time personnel, serving a diverse population of almost 22,000 students is, by any standard you choose, an impressive educational system. For its significant size and complexity, most think the District does an amazing job! Admittedly, circumstances evolve, change is inevitable, and decisions must be made. And every year, the Pearland community has the opportunity to elect Board Members to serve three-year terms as our representatives who make these decisions.
Historically, I am not a prolific social media contributor. However, as the 2019 PISD Board election ramps up, I find myself concerned enough with the conversation to share my thoughts publicly. The following ideas are my own. I am curious to know how you, my neighbors and fellow citizens, view this election and the candidates running for office. I invite you to share your thoughts, both in favor and in opposition of my own.
After extensive research, I perceive my choices as near binary… On the one hand, the incumbents (Rebecca Decker, Lance Botkin, and Jeff Barry) have a long history of participation at all levels and programs in PISD. They quite literally embody the ***Evolution*** of our school district. On the other hand, the challengers (Dona Kim Murphey, Joseph Say, and by association, Al Lloyd) are actively campaigning for dramatic and immediate change within the district… what some might perceive as ***Revolution***. So far, so good.
Our ability to share and debate disparate views is a foundational principle of the American Dream. The views of all of the candidates running for PISD School Board should be heard. The issue, as I see it, is HOW the candidates are expressing and supporting their views.
Allow me to define two approaches to making one’s beliefs known.
***Political Representation*** is defined as “assumed to refer only to the political activities undertaken by citizens elected to political office on behalf of their fellow citizens who do not hold political office.”
For our purposes, and based on the body of work of PISD’s current representatives, “representation” is an effort to understand and balance the needs of all Pearland students, their families, and their advocates. It does not require sensational social media personas.
***Activism*** is defined as “efforts to promote, impede, direct, or intervene in social, political, economic, or environmental reform with the desire to make changes in society.”
For our purposes, and based on the experiences and comments of certain candidates for PISD School Board, “activism” is an effort to bring about change, typically for a specific group, and often by unconventional means. Given this approach, one must consider the candidate’s ability to represent the district as a whole.
My concern regarding “certain candidates’” approach to expressing their positions stems from the observation that tactics are being employed that I find to be unproductive and disingenuous. I think it is fair to assume that a lack of understanding of how our educational system operates as a whole, has led these individuals to sensationalize challenges that they then blame on our current representatives.
Please do not confuse ***Advocacy*** with Activism. Most of us “advocate”, to a greater or lesser extent, for those things we feel strongly about. We support, recommend, and share our ideas with those we think can assist us. Activism typically goes much further with regard to the methods its practitioners employ. Few of us are willing “to do whatever is required” to bring about change in opposition to the beliefs and wishes of the majority. Activists do not always adhere to the same common decency as the rest of us.
To be perfectly clear, activism serves an important role in a free and democratic society. Groups of individuals who are unable, or have been unable, to represent themselves benefit from the efforts of those who can do so more effectively. Furthermore, the community, and those we entrust to represent us, benefit from attaining information of which they might otherwise be unaware.
Pearland is fortunate to have activists and advocates, as well as competent representatives, who work diligently to ensure the needs of our diverse population are heard and correctly acted upon.
For my part, I simply don’t think it’s a good idea to have the activists represent me for the next three years.
I look forward to hearing your thoughts…