Welcome to Laurie Goodman's blog. I use this space to share news and opinions about education and schools in Ridgewood, the state of New Jersey and the nation, in addition to other issues I'm personally interested in. I invite you to share your thoughts, feelings, questions or opinions, too, by posting comments on any blog entry. Please observe basic courtesy -- keep your comments focused on issues, no personal attacks or bullying, please. Contact me directly at: lauriegood@mac.com

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Random thoughts the day after the vote…

I have been sitting in a meeting on the 46th floor of a building today, far away (figuratively) from Ridgewood, trying to switch out of BOE mode and into work mode. Every time someone posts a comment on my blog, however, I get an email to my phone…so obviously I’m not doing so well with putting the vote out of my mind for a few hours. (Sorry to my client for another day when you only get my partial attention!)

First, I thought it was clear but let me clarify my comment last night about the guy running down the stairs (who really did exist, by the way). My description of him being “uninformed” was in response only to his comment “I admit I don’t know anything about the issues.” (Well, that and the fact that he thought we were replacing guidance counselors with flat screen TVs.) I thought it was a funny thing to say…don’t you think that’s a tad remarkable…that he admittedly didn’t know the facts, but just wanted to vote? I did…

This budget process, and the election process, was difficult (to say the least). I don’t think a similar perfect storm has existed before. It was hard to communicate the facts of the operating budget in the face of anger about property taxes, the economy in general, state mandates, budget caps, union refusals…I mean, the fact that the total budget is going DOWN next year, and yet our taxes are going UP…that’s a mind-bender that’s hard to explain. (And yet it can be explained, as I did last week – click here.) The vote wasn’t a “landslide” or a “mandate.” It was pretty close. That almost makes it harder.

The day after an election like this, the natural thing is to figure out whom to blame. There are plenty of nuances and perspectives and we can slice the blame up many ways. Some of the biggest “servings” would have to go to the REA (clearly their action – inaction? -- upset voters enough to say no), Governor Christie (telling people to vote no to send a message, mis-speaking when he said if teachers took a freeze then no programs would be cut -- not true), the Bond Referendum in December (two school tax increases in 4-1/2 months), the BOE (maybe we should have cut more after all? $6 million wasn’t enough? In spite of our vast improvement in communications, we must still do better).

Beyond that, I’m going to resist too much quick Monday-morning quarterbacking. This takes some thoughtful, careful consideration and analysis, and we will be undertaking that as a Board very soon. We will be asking for your thoughts and listening to your input.

For now, we’ve got to work with the Village to get the tax levy set, so we can get to work moving the district forward. I’ll post when I know more about the timing, steps, etc.


Anonymous said...

Hi, Laurie. I know the vote did not come out the way you or many of us wanted, but I just wanted to let you know I am happy that you represent my voice on the BOE. I know you are trying to do what you believe is right and I appreciate it. Thank you for communicating openly and thank you for your hard work!

Anonymous said...

The budget defeat was "not a mandate" but the 6 margin vote of approval for the bond was a "mandate?" Hmmm... The voters spoke pretty clearly.

Laurie Goodman said...

I would not characterize either vote as a "mandate." I think that makes it a little more challenging bit it's the nature of democracy.

Anonymous said...

No matter the margin of victory or defeat, the outcome is a mandate.

Laurie said...

A mandate to do what, exactly?

A mandate to cut more?

A mandate to cut different things?

A mandate to "force" the teachers' union to do something?

A mandate to the legislature to do something about New Jersey's screwed-up school funding?

A mandate on taxes in general?

I'm not trying to be a smart aleck, honest. I've heard all those things in the past week. Unfortunately, there is no extra box on the ballot to explain "why" for a vote.

Anonymous said...

A mandate to cut more, silly.