Making a difference

no sign
Last week, my students were discussing a topic one of them presented to the class. One said something to the effect that “they” will never change the law. Instead of focusing on using a pronoun without an antecedent, I emphasized that “they” is really the people since we elect the legislators. The class then detoured for a few minutes into a discussion on the influence that individuals can have on policy. Since the presenter had given a problem/solution speech on a subject that no one in the class had thought about, we decided that raising awareness was something individuals could do and could make a difference.

Changing state laws is doable but can be intimidating and a bit overwhelming. While the patchwork system of school districts in St. Louis County may have its drawbacks, one positive aspect is the individual districts’ responsiveness to its constituents. The “they” is a bit more personal.

yes sign
Smaller school districts may not have economies of scale, and the St. Louis County districts’ reliance on property tax within each district has created a have/have not system. However, people know the school board members, their votes for or against tax levies and bond issues have meaning, and parents can have real influence in the schools. They may not always realize it, but they can. Someone can talk to others (raise awareness), groups of parents can meet with principals and other administrators or ask for open meetings, individuals or a representative of a group can speak at a board meeting during public comment time and/or go to the media for coverage. The ultimate control is elections, either tax levies/bond issues or for board members.

Clayton’s bond issue passed by 2.6 votes. That is a close election! When the community didn’t like the Wydown/Washington University land swap idea, people let the board know. This tight election is an extension of that and will not be forgotten. I am confident that the process will be more open and transparent going forward.

University City also passed its bond issue.

Clayton Group Plans to Protest School Bond Vote
School Bond Issues Pass
Clayton School District Bond Issues Passes: Construction May Start in Fall
Election results including school board members