Editor's Note: The following Letter to the Editor was submitted to Patch by Saucon Valley School Board member Ralph Puerta, who is running for re-election.
My friend Joel Katz, with whom I often share cordial disagreements, has kindly considered my re-election to the Saucon Valley School Board. I will understand with no hard feelings if he re-considers.
School Board elections have become increasingly partisan, with board members running against each other. It is an easy misstep as I have sometimes discovered with regrets. It is damaging to trust and to building a working relationship in our obligations to the school district.
My concern with Joel's article is beyond that personal problem. It is the use of national political labels to characterize board members, personal agendas, and stealth conspiracies. Specifically in this case it is Joel's warning about the "Tea Party threat."
In my opinion, after eight years of board service, there is not a single board member who has ever brought national political concerns into the decision making process on our local issues. This is a K-12 school, not the US Senate. In fact, our one Tea Party affiliated board member is admittedly anything but stealth, has often praised our district for the education afforded his family, and has voted in the middle on almost every decision.
This is a local school district and the board deals with local concerns. A board member's national liberal point of view may be expressed here as a desire to do more for the equal achievement among all of our students. A member's national conservative point of view may be expressed here as concern for fiscal balance in our budgeting. The liberal point of view is not asking for social engineering in our schools any more than the conservative point of view is asking our schools to rectify the Federal budget.
So also it is with the Tea Party. As I understand, their main concern is Federal deficit spending and the accumulating $16 trillion national debt. To paraphrase, what happens in Washington DC stays in DC. To project that such a national concern would manifest itself here to inspire a board member to reduce local school programs makes no sense, and further there is no evidence of anyone doing so. It is a rather unfair leap to equate the ego-driven national political situation, of all the political parties, to the voluntary service of board membership.
As board members we are guaranteed that every vote we take will be met with some disagreement by a percentage of our residents, who live very close by, and who shop at the same food market. A board member better be in this job for its satisfaction, not for ego or power politics. In my opinion Joel, there is no national political threat here. The decision about whether to buy our next bus is not part of a master conspiracy. As you have said, we have an obligation to keep 2400 young students progressing from kindergarten to graduation, and to improve our school's performance as we go. It happens very quickly and we need to get it right each day.