I tried this last year and came close to success for a second time so why not try again?
After a three-year hiatus in the late teens, we in the Laurel School District are now on our third straight year of a contested election for school board. (I guess they wanted me to move into the district first?) Two years ago I voted for Jana Pugh, who won handily over the then-incumbent Brent Nichols only to see Nichols return in 2021 to win an open seat back by seven votes, outlasting Joey Deiter, who I supported.
If I thought Nichols seeking a third term was bad, guess what I get this year? Incumbent Linda Hitchens, the board president, is seeking a third term of her own and as I noted the other day she has signs all around her end of the district. I’d love to know who donated the money for the signage (or if they’re out of her pocket) but there are no financial reports yet for school board candidate committees insofar as I can tell.
One thing I noticed about Hitchens and her platform was an insinuation in an interview with the Laurel Star newspaper that she wanted to “help to rebuild what we had prior to the pandemic.” I’ll grant that some things were lost because the state closed schools (unnecessarily) but shouldn’t most of that rebuilding already be done? We’re through a full year of in-person classes now. (Those who went to private schools were back even sooner, and it appears from my limited experience with our church school and teachers therein that those students are pretty much caught up.) Add that to my experience in Maryland where school board members we appointed were term-limited to two five-year terms, which assured that new ideas would be tried, and to me our election would come down to either staying home or voting for her opponent, who got off to a slow start with me.
So I’m not the most enthusiastic backer of Joe Kelley, who’s obviously isn’t a politician based on how he’s run his campaign. However, the one claim to fame he has is a system that’s been tried for awhile in Arizona (and probably a few other areas) called Move On When Ready. As I read it, kids aren’t necessarily assigned to grade but work toward subject mastery, as in this example from an Arizona school system. I don’t think this is the be-all and end-all, but putting Kelley on the board brings a new perspective and idea to what seems to be a moribund school district.
One thing Kelley did get was the Patriots for Delaware endorsement; however, I don’t know if they liked his answers to their survey questions or if he was the only one of the two to respond. Unlike last year, the Democratic Socialists have something better to do than “recommend” school board candidates, nor could I find an endorsement list from the teachers’ union. (The Democrats will be doing a GOTV effort this weekend, but they’re close to the vest on who they’ll back.) But I did find a list of candidates from the Republican Party – not necessarily endorsed, but presumably registered Republican. (Among them is Linda Hitchens.)
What’s interesting to me is that the GOP and Patriots for Delaware are at odds on not just the Laurel race, but also in Delmar where Dawn Adkins Litchford is the P4D choice but Lauren Hudson is the Republican, and Woodbridge where the Republican is Rita Hovermale but the P4D backs Corey Grammer. They both agree in Seaford on George Del Farno, though. Out of 11 selected by Patriots for Delaware, only five are listed as Republicans, and one has been outed as a Libertarian.
But if you’re in the Laurel School District, don’t be afraid to vote like I will for Joe Kelley. While I think Linda Hitchens for her decade of service, it’s time for some fresh ideas.