=====( To Win a Board of Education Election, Part 2 )=====
Sunday evening I attended a meeting of our education advocacy group, Citizens for Quality Education and asked to elaborate on the different points of my program. CQE is a high spirited group of parents concerned with the curriculum, schools, and anything else related to education. One of their former Board candidates, also a professional writer with corporate experience, reviewed my draft and offered many sound simplifcations. Of course, as with any advocacy group, there were individuals with strong opinions on just about every- thing. But, most felt comfortable with my announcement, and offered informal support. Now I'm waiting for their official word of endorsement. My strong position on raising mathematics standards was viewed with skepticism by some.
Monday morning, at 8:25 AM, I submitted my petition of candidacy for election to the Board of Education to the Board office. The nice woman who received the paper seem unmoved by my appearance (was she tired of the dozens which had arrived the week before ?). She politely reviewed my list of signatoires and even remarked that it was notarized (some- thing people try to get away with; but don't ask why). When I asked her whether any other petitions had been received, she said that 'one of the incumbents took one out, but it's still early', and with that returned to her files. Hmmm, what about the other two guys ?, I thought. March 1st is the dead- line. 4.5 weeks. away.
Mailed a "press release" to the two local media outlets. It simply stated that I had submitted my petition to run. I also gave a line noting that I was employed as a statistician and the name of my employer (big corporation locally. For the curious, look at my email address).
Last evening I received my first serious, but unsolicited bit of advice. The email, from a long time aquaintance and former Board member, pointed out that I should reach out beyond the social circle of my activists supporters. Sound advice. Have opinion makers, as he call them, hold coffees for me. I guess that's another word for house meetings. He volunteered to do as much. He also was sceptical about my plans to walk the area of the town twice. It's about 80 miles - if you stretch it out in a string of houses. He tried and failed. Ok, but I'm also a walker. I can still recall walking from New Brunswick to Princeton many years ago. It took hours, but I did it. I've also done similar between Somerville (close to where I work) and New Brunswick. So I'm not shy of this plan. Besides, it may not be productive to visit every house. That would tie me down. I'll work out some form of sampling of neighborhoods to do the same. Properly designed, a good sampling plan would be, say, 80% as efficient as if I actually visited every house. These are called stratified sampling plans. They work; trust the math- ematics done during WW2 for quality control of the ammo. But don't tell the US Supreme Court. They just voted down a proposed use of sampling, 5-4. A very dangerous political precedent. Politics dictating scientific methodology. Certainly we all know the story of the Indiana Assembly bill written to legislate the value of pi to be 16/5 ? Read up on Assembly bill # 246 of 1897. What would Galileo have said ? Einstein ? Vavilov ?
(That this issue weighs on my mind is because I wrote a long article called "CENSUS 2000: THE REAL Y2K PORBLEM" for the Fall, 1998 issue of the Newsletter, NJ Chapter of the American Statistical Association. I'll send those interested a copy by snail mail or the WORD document by email.)
I reworded and redesigned my main information flyer for the fourth time. Made a batch of 25 in two tone color (expensive, but free on my wife's copier). Handed out a few at my son's school to sleep eyed parents, just as tired teachers, and morning school workers. All very happy, it seems, that a familiar face would be entering the race. I won the immediate support of the two women managing the before-school program where I leave my son mornings. As newcomers to the area (and roommates they tell me), these two fresh college grads may be looking for a political campaign to join ! Hey, I remember doing the same for Geo. McGovern as a student.
I was just informed that two of the Board incumbants have picked up petitions for the Board election. This is interesting as rumors had suggested otherwise. Now the third of their confederates may join as well. That means that I (and whom- ever else) will have to face a block. This renews my concern for mapping out a sound political strategy. The components of this are: 1) campaign platform, 2) personal outreach, 3) media campaign, 4) base of support. As of this writing, I have a campaign platform and a few friends who want to support me. So I'm 27% ready.
To deal with the stress of increasing uncertainty, I'm pre- paring to run off several hundred flyers at lunch. A ream (RM) of paper has 500 sheets and costs $8.79/RM. I can carry two comfortably if need be. Time to start stockpiling my ammo. I'm going to need a new set of good looking walking shoes soon. Balck Ink costs $31/cartridge!
My second letter is printed by the local press.
The county press carried my press release as a small news article in the 'local' pages. Not bad ! Curiously, it mentioned that as of Friday, I was the only candidate running. I guess the other two have yet to submit their petitions.
Now, all of my letters will have the sentence "The writer is a candidate for election to the Metuchen Board of Education April 20", or something similar following my name.
I didn't start knocking door on door yesterday as I have the flu.
Completed my 3rd letter calling for serious science education earlier than HS - many revisions. Will mail today. Those who read last Sunday's NY Times article on teaching physics first, will know what I'm talking about. Otherwise see the journal Science, 10 July, 1998.
I have ideas for the 4th and 5th letters - mostly on material from the NSF's summary of the use of technology in K-12 math ed. For the interested, it's in Chapter 8 of their report available at: http://www.nsf.gov/sbe/srs/seind98/start.htm
Now I see a press artcle on Clinton's call for national math standards (which I'm inclined to support as a minimum). This is a good source of discussion for future letters. One need only to keep their eyes open to find something to write about. There are many issues nationally, which can be tied into local events.
============================================ The writer is a candidate for Board of Education. Aside for concerns about effective and accountable district management, an affordable budget, and increased communication with the community, I'm calling for strong upgrading of mathematics and science education K-12.
This is an experiment to see if we have the power to change things, and not simply interpret them.