The Ottumwa Courier

August 30, 2013

It's time to get smart

Ottumwa Courier

---- — Now is the time for all good men and women to come to the aid of their community.

Have I written this before? Perhaps. But it needs stating again and again and again.

Ottumwa voters have two important elections approaching: Ottumwa school board seats and Ottumwa mayoral and council positions.

You've probably noticed signs in yards indicating preferences for school board candidates. This year's race has some interest, which is a good thing.

What you the voter must do before the Sept. 10 election is study issues you think the school district needs to address, from curriculum to activities and faculty to buildings.

The Courier has run the list of candidates and some of their thoughts on why they seek a board seat. It's not a cliche when candidates say they want to focus on the students and what and how they are learning. It's the basis for good education: What's best for the kids.

What parents and voters need to do is find out if the students are making achievements and in what areas. If nothing else, ask some kids you know. How is school and how would you change it?

There are recent issues to also consider, from logistics at the new Liberty Elementary School to those in charge deciding that a play such as "The Laramie Project" is not family-friendly and thus can't be produced in school — after a decision was made earlier in the school year to plan for the play.

When issues such as the play arise, one would expect the ensuing board meetings to be packed with parents with questions. I don't think that happened. Changes don't always get made just because of a flurry of letters to the editor and comments made on social media. Sometimes you have to confront those in charge and ask why. If you disagree with the answer, then consider whether a change in regime — whether it be school officials or board members — may be in order. In other words, get out and vote. Volunteer school board members are the ones making the decisions on hirings.

As I've said before, I commend all those who take the time to run for office. Serving on the school board can be looked at as a thankless job with hours spent in meetings and studying issues, all on a volunteer basis. But what an important job it is: Having a say in our children's educational future.

For the majority of us not running, it is up to us to be educated enough to elect those we feel will be the best choice, the most responsible and the most passionate about keeping our kids on the right track.

For the probable primary in October for mayoral and council candidates, now is also the time to get involved with city issues and find out your candidate's stance on items that will benefit the community.

We'll tackle some of those issues in a forthcoming column.

Judy Krieger is a retired Courier editor.