the actually engaged citizen

I basically just write about civic engagement. My wife actually engages. She’s the “Laura” who appears in this front-page lead of a story in The (Washington, DC) Northwest Current. The article, by Ian Thoms, begins:

The mayor’s school takeover plan colored much of the discussion at last week’s District II school board forum in Cleveland Park, but it was the final question of the night that hit the issue right on the head.

John Eaton Elementary parent Laura Broach asked the question that had been lurking behind most of the night’s queries. Given the greatly reduced role of the board under the mayor’s seemingly soon-to-be-approved legislation, why do the candidates still want the job?

The pending legislation will take budget authority away from the school board and give it to the city council, while transferring day-to-day management to the mayor. The school board will be left to decide some matters of curriculum and standards. I don’t see a matter of high principle here, since the same electorate chooses all three bodies. It remains to be seen whether rearranging authority makes any difference at all; I doubt it will solve our system’s problems, which are very deep. Public participation is a big part of the solution, and the local school board forum was a good example.

1 thought on “the actually engaged citizen

  1. mooredp

    Peter:

    First thanks for continuing to present the comprehensiveness of this issue.

    Second, I wonder what you think the role of the decline of union membership plays in the trends you highlight? I would venture that a graph of union membership laid onto your first chart would parallel the declines in participation – particularly those with less education.

    While romanticizing about the days of unions probably doesn’t help, it seems to me that we need to figure out what replaces that cohesive unit that brought people together to engage in politics locally and nationally.

    David Moore

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