Local school board races are serious affairs. And the candidates and their supporters certainly reflect that seriousness.
Unfortunately, outside special interests do not always take things as seriously as do the voters.
In Kenosha, the Wisconsin chapter of Americans for Prosperity — a group backed by the billionaire Koch brothers — is meddling in this year’s school board elections.
Closer to home, in the Oregon area, political operatives from Madison and beyond are wading into the local school board race, with slick messages and expensive communications.
As former Oregon School Board member Charlie Uphoff notes, mailings from an outside group calling itself Wisconsin Small Businesses United — which, Uphoff points out, is run by a veteran Republican with ties to Scott Walker — is promoting messages that encourage voters to retain incumbent School Board members.
Mailings from the group rip teachers and the Oregon Education Association and claim that unless its favored candidates prevail, the school district faces the threat of a return to "irresponsible budgeting" and "back room bickering." But, Uphoff explains, “I was on the board from 1993 to 2002 and I don't recall any time when we had irresponsible budgeting, and we had to account for every dime.”
Uphoff, who is running again this year, also suggests that bickering is a lot more prevalent now than in the past.
That’s how we see it as well.
Outside groups with lots of money can and do make lots of claims.
But Oregon-area voters should listen to the actual candidates, especially those, like Uphoff, with the long view that comes from actual experience — as opposed to the short view that comes with a political agenda.
They might also listen to a current board member, Rae Vogeler, who warns, "Outside interests have no interest in our schools or our children."
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