Sunday, November 2, 2008

Questionable Endorsement Letter - From Virginia Irwin

Last week we received a letter from Virginia Irwin. I suspect many others received this letter, though we didn't know this at the time.

As Cathy and I have been quite active in education matters, our thoughts were "Is this an action plan to address the AYP failures at Newport" or "Perhaps progress on controlling special-ed spending" or "Thoughts on the SAU 43 Area Agreement"? Maybe even "The Obama poster has been removed"?


While one could expect a letter from a public official explaining how she might serve us, this letter explained how we were to serve the wishes of a public official. That is, Virginia Irwin asked us to support Bob Odell in his November 4th reelection bid.

Typically conservative voters, Cathy and I have decided not to vote for Bob Odell for many of the same reasons Irwin asks voters to support him. Most notably, Odell's support for an amendment introducing an education responsibility into our constitution smacks of government power expansion at the expense of local control. We consider his position destructive towards the goal of quality education.

But that is beside the point. Supporter or not, a persuasive endorsement requires some form of political capital on the issues at hand.

Newport Middle High School is now in its sixth year of failing to make AYP and is in its third year of failure in Literacy. Being "in the business" for a certain number of years does not an expert make. A true leader, a true education expert, would have turned this around years ago. There is no excuse for Newport's present condition.

If education is important to your decisions on November 4th, please use your own judgement as to whether Bob Odell or any other candidate has the qualities that enhance the education system in Newport. What we're doing now clearly isn't working.

Jim Peschke

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