Here’s a cure for my sleepless nights |

Here’s a cure for my sleepless nights

by linda hiller

Yawn. How many pedantic presidential debates must we endure? I know – they have to be “presidential,” – but why can’t they be funny, or at least interesting, too?

Both Gore and Bush (or “Bore and Gush,” as comedian Bill Maher calls them) showed they could be funny and charming on the Oprah show, but Tuesday’s debate was dullsville. And we wonder about voter apathy.

Running on Mediscare? Oh, stop it, G.W., you’re killing me.

A Winnebago and a poodle? Please, Al, I can’t breathe I’m laughing so hard.

Here in the news business, we have to be interested in politics and politicians. It’s our job.

But often our job doesn’t make sense, and one of the most hotly-debated issues in Douglas County lately – DHS teacher Randy Green’s bid for a seat on the school board – falls into that category for me.

I have been married to a school teacher for more than 20 years, and I am actively involved in our childrens’ schools, from PTA president and field trip chaperone to school district committee member and band costume tailor.

In all that time, I have never understood why there are no teachers on school boards – it seems as silly as having a hospital board with no doctors, a contractor’s board with no contractors, a Realtor’s board with no Realtors – where’s the logic in that?

I know, it’s the conflict of interest on voting salary issues that gets in everyone’s craw.

“Who is voting ‘Yes’ for the teacher pay raise? Randy, put one of your hands and both of your legs down, now!”

The truth is, discussing teacher salaries is just a tiny tip of what a school board does. The teacher (or relative of a teacher) abstains from that vote. That’s easy.

Green, a 23-year veteran teacher, has already said he’d refuse money for teachers voted by a board he serves on. Next objection?

I’ve covered many school board meetings and am always impressed with the dedication and quality of both school board members and district personnel. But issues often come up that (it seems to me) could be easily addressed by having a teacher fully on the board.

“We tried that in the classroom already – it just isn’t practical for the teachers or the students.” Period. Precious time saved.

If you’ve noticed, none of the current school board members makes their living in education – John Raker is in the insurance business, Don Forrester is a former attorney, George Echan is a practicing attorney, Dave Brady is a financial adviser, Cheri Johnson is in marketing, Randy Wallstrum is a veterinarian (married to a teacher, by the way), and only Michele Lewis has classroom experience and an education background, having taught vocational agriculture and currently working on her master’s in educational leadership at UNR.

These are all wonderful, brave individuals, don’t get me wrong – each is a parent who stepped up to public service for all our children, something most of us are too chicken to do. But where are the years of formal study in the art and science of educating, the day-to-day experience in the classroom with students? Only one board member has experienced that.

I do not know Randy Green beyond calling him about a story three years ago, but you’d have to be blind to not notice that he is inspiring many Douglas County voters. The odds are, he probably would win the election – even his opponent, incumbent John Raker, elegantly said that in this newspaper more than once.

But here’s an idea, a precedent- setting one that could be win-win for everyone … what if DCSD decided to challenge the precedent of no teachers on a school board and make a position for an official, elected teacher adviser?

Wouldn’t that be an amazing move for a district with failing support from its staff (can you say “picket”?), yet the best of intentions toward being a cutting edge, “lighthouse district?”

And, here’s the best part, it would be (forgive me) “precedent-ial.”