Response to: Concerns about schools call for greater public engagement (Frostman Column, WiscNews)

Education School Board
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Original Article

2020 Candidates for School Board

As far as I have heard from the district as of a few days ago, there are 3 people who have submitted their candidacy for Baraboo School Board in the upcoming election and they are:

  • Doug Mering – an incumbent
  • Paul Kujak – a former Baraboo teacher
  • James O’Neill – me: a Baraboo native, a small business owner, a veteran, a father

Stats on Staff Turn Over

I was there for the original meeting where the stats were presented by Mike Sherk and it was met with considerable tenseness.

I was there when the 50 or so former teachers had their message read in front of the board. I had never seen so many people at a board meeting since I started attending the meetings earlier this year. The board chair’s response to the letter made some valid points, was heartfelt, but also quite defensive. This was the most tense board meeting I had witnessed. After the 50 some teachers left following the reading of the letter the board continued as normal.

I do find these numbers and the considerable community response problematic and may be symptomatic of larger issues that will require a deep level of investigation.

Broken Country = Broken Education System

There are many factors that are a part of the issues that our district and our state face when it comes to our children’s education system, and there are NO easy answers. The issues are complex and interdependent and this is something we must accept as we go forward looking for solutions. We must also take a look at the problems which we wish to solve and determine which ones are symptoms of a much deeper problem, and look for their root problems so we can work towards dealing with the many root problems. If we work towards solving symptoms then they may go away for a time, but they will return, because the root cause has not been eliminated.

Act 10 is definitely part of the problem. Common Core is definitely part of the problem. School choice is part of the problem. Not having universal education and health care is part of the problem. Having a minimum wage which has not changed for decades is part of the problem. Having the highest level of income inequality in the developed world is part of problem. Not having anything resembling a democracy is part of the problem. Having minorities of all types being afraid to walk down the street because they fear possibly be murdered by the police or even by other Americans is part of the problem. The US being one of the largest terrorist organizations in the world is part of the problem. Our government being owned and run by corporations and the rich, being an oligarchy or a corporatocracy, is part of the problem. There are so many, many problems that our education system, our families, and our children faces and this list is barely the tip of the iceberg.

None of these conditions happened on accident. They did not happen magically without rhyme, without reason, or without cause. All of these problems were engineered and voted upon by politicians in government who were supposed to be working for you and I and our families. All of these self-serving and corporate owned politicians were voted into office by We the People who are disillusioned, disenfranchised, disempowered, debt laden, fearful, and whose education has faced a 50 year assault by these powers.

Our government’s corporate owners do not want us working together, talking together, or figuring out what is going on or why. They do not want us asking real questions and searching for real answers, and that is why they have voted the way they have over the years. They want us distracted, fearful, and fighting against each other so we are not fighting against them. The moment We the People realize what has happened, that We have been sold out for fun and profit, that is the moment that the We the People will realize that We have power and can work to demand and vote for real change. The politicians and corporations cannot have this. And that movement to end their corruption is exactly what needs to happen.

How to Work Towards Change

Work Towards Being a Community

“It takes a community to raise a child”

An Ancient Africa Proverb

A common saying is that “It takes a community to raise a child.” and that is correct, however, that is not at all how our communities, education systems, or anything else in our horrifically broken country are set up. The laws of our country are specifically meant to keep us from working together, to keep us at each other’s throats, to keep us afraid, to keep us competing against each other, to keep us distracted. A distracted citizenry is one that is NOT organized. This is a large part of what we need to work towards fixing.

We need to start with creating an organization to help bring our families together so we can be a community of parents so we can support one another. This is one of the most powerful things we can do locally – be a community.

Work Together to Reduce Inequality

Poverty is the worst form of violence.

Mahatma Gandhi

Inequality is one of the most devastating forces that we need to work against. If you want to know more about the harms and power of inequality then read the following 2 books: The Spirit Level and The Inner Level.

If we are able to work towards being a community of parents the we can work on helping each other, especially those who are suffering the most in our community. We are all in this together and we need to try to act like it. A community acting together is stronger that if we are standing apart.

Everyone Should be an Activist

Activism is my rent for living on the planet.

Alice Walker

Pretty much all politicians are only in it for their paycheck do NOT care about you or I. Their families are taken care of and that is all that matters to them. But what about us?

We need to start getting educated in politics. We all need to vote. We need to know what is happening in government how it effects you and your neighbors, because, believe me, those corporations and the politicians know very well, and they are making a lot of money at our expense. Our children suffer greatly from our collective ignorance and inaction.

We need to educate ourselves on the issues. We need to be involved in advocating for ourselves and our neighbors. We need to be involved with the process of government which I know can be difficult.

Most of all we need to vote out those who have sold us down the river for profit and we need to vote in those truly progressive candidates so we can make sure that we can start to undo the damage that has been done. We the People have this power and as soon as we realize this and embrace it, the sooner the revolution will begin and end. I am running for office to be a part of that solution and so should you.

I am running for School Board

My names is James O’Neill and I am running for Baraboo School Board in 2020.

Together we can make a difference.


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