Saturday, September 29, 2012

Once again: the lynching of John Young

So Eric Anderson resigns from the Christina School Board to campaign for the General Assembly . . . and loses (Eric, you really should have called Red Clay's Kim Williams for some advice on the proper sequencing of events).

CSD posts the required statutory notice of a vacancy on the board until the next election.

Only applicant from the city of Wilmington:  former CSD Board member and president George Evans.

Let's stop here to note that in 2010 the residents of the city of Wilmington overwhelmingly rejected Mr. Evans in favor of Mr. Anderson by an 869-217 margin.  Allowing for the third candidate in the race, after nearly 20 years on the school board Mr. Evans had so impressed his constituents that he received a massive 18.2% of the vote.

In other words, more than four out of five voters in Wilmington wanted Mr. Evans OFF the CSD.

OK, back to main narrative.

CSD posts the notice of vacancy.  Mr. Evans, spectacularly unsuccessful in his re-election bid, applies to come back to the board.

Nobody else applies.

CSD School Board deadlocks 3-3 on re-appointing Mr. Evans to the board.  He is not re-appointed.

In the time-honored tradition of unsuccessful politicians everywhere, he runs whining to the ACLU that he had the right to be seated, and gins up his followers to scream racism.
Let's examine some quotes from the singularly inept and poorly written WNJ story by Sean O'Sullivan:
The failure to appoint George E. Evans to a seat reserved for a Wilmington representative that has been empty since June is a violation of the law and is a disservice to city residents who “need and deserve strong representation on the Christina board,” saidexecutive director Kathleen MacRae.
Obviously Ms. MacRae has not read the election returns in which the city residents rejected Mr. Evans. Apparently, neither did the WNJ report.

Exactly how, Ms. MacRae, is it a disservice to the city residents of Wilmington to foist upon them a failed candidate that they rejected two years ago by landslide margins?

Note next Mr. Sullivan's intentionally disingenuous (I prefer to think it was intentional than to believe he is really that naive) way of referring to Mr. Evans:
At meetings on Aug. 14 and Sept. 11, the board deadlocked 3-3 on appointing Evans, the only applicant, to the vacant seat. Evans, an attorney and adjunct professor at Lincoln University, served on the school board from 1981 until 2010 and was board president for five years.
See that?  The fact that Mr. Evans left the board because he lost in a landslide to Mr. Anderson is apparently not something WNJ readers are entitled to know.  The paragraph makes it sound like Mr. Evans, after a long period of distinguished service, retired gracefully and is now selflessly willing to come back to save the day.

The only reason for opposing him?  Racism, of course:
The ACLU suggested that Evans was not appointed due to the fact he had been “an assertive advocate for the interests of Wilmington school children.” Community advocate Bebe Ross Coker, suggested race may have played a factor. 
In this paragraph the ACLU asserts that the other board members are unconcerned with "the interests of Wilmington school children" because they voted not to seat a candidate that the parents of Wilmington school children have rejected.

Bebe Ross Coker, ever at hand with her deck, immediately pulls the race card.  The three CSD board members were not voting their conscience, not taking not of Wilmington's rejection of Mr. Evans, they just hate African-Americans.

As happened in April 2011, we see an ugly pattern emerging:  whenever anyone on the Christina School Board takes a position that is not beloved by the political powers that be, guess what?  They are racists.

And guess what?  John Young, who is also (whisper it) a blogger (and critic of corporate and Federal education "reform"), is the klansman in chief.  Might as well put up a photo of him in the white hood burning a crossing in the middle of downtown Wilmington.

This, of course, overlooks several facts:

1.  The city of Wilmington residents, whose interests are at stake, failed to send any other candidate forward other than an opportunist failed politician seeking to reverse the judgment of the ballot box through administrative actions.

2.  Had anybody else offered himself or herself for the position, the board could have voted them in over Mr. Evans, and--guess what!--he'd probably still have sued.

3.  The ACLU argument is legally flawed.  If Mr. Evans had a legal and statutory right to be seated just for offering himself for the position, then no vote board would have been required to seat him.  This is a key point.  When only one qualified candidate self-nominates for election, there is no election, and the Delaware Department of Elections declares that candidate to hold the position.  It has happened on multiple occasions in CSD.   But this appointment requires a vote.  Why?  Because the law leaves it to the judgment of the sitting board members to vet the quality of the potential replacement member in the absence of an election.  The ACLU argument is apparently that, if the public is so apathetic as not to generate more than a single candidate for the position, then the board's responsibility to make a determination about the quality of applicants disappears.  So if the only candidate to apply had been someone with a dozen prior arrests (but no convictions) for drug-dealing, would the CSD Board have been legally obligated to appoint them?

4.  The ACLU argument is flawed in yet another respect.  The way that school board elections are structured in Delaware is that nominees must live in a specific district, but the elections are general.  So it is perfectly legitimate to say that all board members are elected to represent the interests of all children in the CSD (including the city of Wilmington) because voters in the city of Wilmington get to vote for or against all of them, just like residents of Newark.  Every single sitting member of the CSD Board (including that dire racist John Young) had to seek support from voters inside the city to win election.  Should Wilmington voters choose to mobilize in numbers, they could literally throw Mr. Young or any other board member off the board, exactly as they threw off Mr. Evans in 2010.

5.  The ACLU assertion that failure to appoint Mr. Evans is to deprive the city residents of effective representation will make interesting viewing if ACLU attorney Richard Morse actually has to make the case that Mr. Evans was previously effective on the school board.  A strong case can be made that for many years the voters in CSD have not been particularly impressed with his performance.  In 2005 he narrowly won re-election with only 46% in a three-way race (he beat out the second-place candidate by a whopping 51 votes).  In 2000 he was re-elected only because he ran unopposed.  In other words, at no time during the past decade has Mr. Evans demonstrated that a majority of voters want him on the CSD board.

6.  The political charge that John Young and the other two CSD board members are voting against Mr. Evans because of his race are utter bullshit.  CSD board members have one of the toughest, most thankless jobs in the state of Delaware, representing the interests of children in the state's poorest district while fighting the entrenched interests of Federal, State, and corporate bureaucracies whose avowed intent is often to see that they fail so that either the district can be carved up into charter schools or used as exemplars for self-serving reports to the Feds to get more Race to the Top money.  The State has a long history of shortchanging CSD and then blaming problems in the education there on the school board, while also threatening to withhold millions of dollars from CSD students anytime the board has an independent thought.

But on a more personal level the idea that John Young is a racist is so at odds with the man (if you know him at all) as to border on the delusional.  It is insulting in the extreme to a public servant (in the best sense of the word) who keeps fighting every day for all the children of the Christina School District no matter what his political opponents call him, that I lack sufficient terms of disdain and disgust to characterize the people who do so.

Or the lax and lazy reporters who write stories designed to support that charge.

I have not--the record will show--agreed with John Young on all things.  We have argued and fought over many portions of education in Delaware.

But I know John Young as an honorable man whose heart genuinely hurts whenever he thinks of any child in his district being left behind.  I know John Young as a man who votes his conscience no matter what slings and arrows will be directed at him.

So if John Young and two other CSD members have such reservations about seating Mr. Evans again on the CSD board, I suggest that the ACLU, Ms. Coker, and all the critics are asking the wrong question.

The right question is:  If Mr. Evans is such an effective representative for the city of Wilmington students, then why can't he get elected to the board on his own merits?


Anonymous said...

It's not just me, two other board members voted no as you point out.

Even more ironic is the ALCU supporting Mr. Evans in specific when Mr. Evans has supported policies anathema to one of their core causes:

Education Law

Cub Scout, 6, Broke Weapons Rule With Camping Tool, School Says

Posted Oct 13, 2009 3:51 PM CDT

Excited about becoming a Cub Scout, 6-year-old Zachary Christie couldn't wait to use his new camping tool.
But when he brought out the utensil—which can be used as a knife, a fork and a spoon at lunch at Downes Elementary School in the suburbs of Wilmington, Del., officials concluded it violated the weapons ban. Under a zero tolerance policy for such violations in the Christina School District, administrators had no choice but to suspend the boy for 45 days, reports the New York Times.
Zachary feels the penalty is unfair and his mom, Debbie Christie, has started a website in an effort to lobby support for her son to go back to school.
State lawmakers recently weighed in on a similar issue, after a third-grade girl was expelled for a year because her grandmother had sent a birthday cake with her to school—as well as a knife to cut it with, the newspaper recounts. While lawmakers clarified that local school boards have the authority to modify such expulsions, they didn't specify that school boards have the same power concerning suspensions, the Times recounts. A legislative amendment is now being discussed.

The president of the Christina district’s school board, George Evans, says the zero-tolerance approach serves an important purpose: “There is no parent who wants to get a phone call where they hear that their child no longer has two good seeing eyes because there was a scuffle and someone pulled out a knife," he tells the newspaper.

Important because:

Dana Garrett said...

I am not sure that your argument has as much intuitive force as you believe since your position amounts to saying that it is better for Wilmington residents to have no representation on the board than to be represented by someone they didn't elect at the polls. That's not obvious. Besides, suppose someone who had never stood for election had applied and been appointed. True he or she would have never been turned down by the voters, but then he or she would have never garnered a single vote either. So would you support a process whereby someone could be appointed who no voter supported over a person who at least some voters supported?

Anonymous said...

Dana, as school board elections are at large, I am an elected Wilmington school board member. so are my 5 peers.

All 7 districts are 6/7ths represented in the absence of a 7th member.

It is my duty and responsibility to advocate for all children in CSD regardless of their zip code and that is exactly what I do.

Dana Garrett said...

Oh, if they are all at large members, then that's different.

NCSDad said...

ACLU does not support people, but causes. Based on a consistent philosophy. The new director is new in town as well and may just need an education. IMHO the highest purpose of the ACLU would be fighting "the delaware way". I think you and her could be allies if she were clued into the real state of education in DE.

Anonymous said...


I agree that they support causes, so why would they support a cause that could endanger another cause?

NCSDad said...

Give her a chance. She's surrounded by attornies over there.