Richard Greene

April 26, 2014

Don’t question motives in school bond proposal

Opposition is coming from some who don’t live in the Arlington district.

Voters encountering some of the rhetoric from opponents of the Arlington school bond election may be wondering about the motives of those who put the proposal together.

Set aside for a minute that opposition is coming from some who don’t even live in the district; let’s take a look at who crafted the package and why they did what they did the way they did it.

As we do, let’s also ask who should be determining the future of our community. Should it be those of us who live and work here, or do we want to turn the decision over to people from somewhere else?

There are three main groups that worked in designing the bond proposal. We begin with the management team of one of the state’s largest school districts led by Superintendent Marcelo Cavazos.

Cavazos has a distinguished career of service spanning 15 years with the school district. He was named superintendent about 18 months ago — a decision that was embraced throughout the city by people who believed he was the right person at the right time to prepare 65,000 students for successful futures.

His motivation in leading his team of administrators and teachers to identify what’s needed is to see those students — every one of them — reach their full academic potential, graduate on time, excel at their school or career of choice and serve their community.

The proposal was then placed into the hands of a 38-person committee consisting of students, parents, teachers and community members of great diversity from every part of the city. These folks spent six months working on every detail, analyzing the current status of school district facilities and its teaching resources.

Throughout the process, they gathered input from more than 3,400 people who participated in meetings, completed questionnaires and responded to surveys in what may be the most robust effort ever to produce a result that reflected the will of the people.

Their work meant paring down the original proposal and ensuring that every aspect was connected to the objectives of providing leading-edge learning experiences and first-rate facilities for students and their school communities.

Their motivation, therefore, was to do what was in the best interest of the future of the community, and that’s how they explained it when they delivered their work to the school board.

When it was placed on the agenda of the seven people chosen by voters to ensure the successful outcome of the most important responsibility of our civilization, the decision of how to proceed had reached the politicians.

Do they have something personal to gain from this plan?

Without any connection to any reference point whatsoever that would provide an affirmative reply to that question, opponents seem to want to suggest that’s something for voters to worry about.

School board members don’t even get paid for their service. Not a dime. Nothing in this proposal means anything more to them than carrying out the heavy burden of doing the right thing and honoring the trust voters have bestowed upon them.

The people who have developed this bond package and the processes they have utilized in putting it together say more than arguments over whether some individual element of the proposal ought to be in it or not.

It’s all interrelated and interdependent, and it’s all needed to ensure that we as a community protect and support without limits our most important resource — the children today who will become the caretakers of our society tomorrow.

The election gets underway Monday. If you vote in Arlington, what happens now is up to you.

Richard Greene is a former Arlington mayor and served as an appointee of President George W. Bush as regional administrator for the Environmental Protection Agency.

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