Local politicians tend to get entrenched. It seems as if once they get elected, they are there for life. This is definitely the case with the Craven County Board of Education. Carr Ipock, the chairman, has served as chairman since 1994. Although the biographies listed on the Board website do not specify how long the other members have served, it seems as if most of them have been there for at least four years. This year three of the Board members are running for re-election; one member is retiring from the Board. There will be four openings to be filled on the Board of Education in November. There are primary elections on March 15th for two of those openings. In the primary elections, candidates run in their own districts. In November, all the candidates that made it through the primary election will vie for the four contested seats on the Board. Among the candidates running for the Board of Education are four candidates that are running on a “Back to Basics” slate. These candidates want to end Common Core in our schools, bring transparency to the Board of Education, and encourage more cooperation between the Board of Education and parents and teachers. This is the backdrop of the story I am about to tell.
The New Bern Sun Journal posted an editorial today about some recent problems in the Craven County schools. Recently there was an issue with a student being injured by a teacher restraining him. The Board of Education attempted to use legal means to block a parent from viewing a videotape of the incident. There was also an incident of losing a large amount of federal money due to an incorrectly filled-out form. These are incidents which have begun to undermine the basic confidence in the Board of Education. Now there is another incident which further damages their image.
The editorial in the Sun Journal reports:
Now the Craven County Board of Education, of which some members are running for re-election, wants the city of New Bern to intervene on their behalf and remove campaign signs from the vicinity of the school district headquarters.
Here’s the complaint, sent by the school district’s diretor of communications, Jennifer Wagner:
“Under the direction of the Board of Education, I am submitting a formal complaint regarding the campaign signs placed in front of the Board of Education located at 3600 Trent Road.
“These signs are a violation of Board Policy as well as City Ordinance 15-324 (b)Temporary signs cannot be located within street rights-of-way or public property unless approved by the board of aldermen or its designee.
“The Board of Education requests that these signs be removed immediately and requests that the public property located at 3600 Trent Road be free of all political campaign signs so it does not appear that the Board of Education is endorsing any candidates.”
Either the Board of Education must think voters are pretty stupid, or it is using the “endorsing any candidates” ruse as an excuse to have the campaign signs removed.
Either way, school board members are trying to get the city of New Bern to act as their stooge.
No one believes that campaign signs in public rights-of-way indicate endorsement by businesses or organizations that happen to be nearby.
The obvious solution to the problem would be for the candidates on the Board to add their signs to the side of the road. Early voting begins on March 3rd, and the primary election is on March 15th. After that, all this silliness will suspend until October. I really think the Craven County Board of Education is setting a horrible example for the children they are elected to serve.