Printed letters, October 18, 2013
How heartbreaking to learn that candidates vying for positions at the core of our education system, candidates who are supposed to stand up for and expect nothing less than what is best for our local school children, feel it’s appropriate to allow nonlocal money to infect this critical school-board election.
Perhaps if a candidate is unable to gain support from local residents, there is a reason, and that person should not be in a position that local residents must trust in and depend on.
It is one thing to look to other communities and school districts for examples of innovation, potential or qualities we might emulate, but it is not OK to look to them for money for a local position, allowing someone who doesn’t know us, our neighbors, our teachers or our community to play a role in deciding what is best for our community.
I don’t feel it’s OK for people who are not members of our community and/or don’t have kids, grandkids or perhaps even friends’ kids in our community’s schools to have the loudest voice of support for people who may take on a significant role in our school district.
This is one more reason I will be voting for Greg Mikolai, John Williams and Tom Parrish. Collectively, coming from 273 individual sources, 80 to 90 percent of donations to Mikolai, Williams and Parrish were locally obtained.
Teachers’ union also tries to buy school-board election
The furor over “Outsider spends in school races,” a front-page article in The Daily Sentinel Wednesday, would be humorous were it not so pathetic.
The conservative candidates have stated they were in favor of some form of vouchers, along with other reforms, which will provide parents and students more educational choices. People who support these kinds of reforms have contributed money to their campaigns.
The opposing candidates are in favor of union-directed education, and the unions have demonstrated their support by contributing large sums of money to them. There is nothing sinister about contributing money to support candidates with shared viewpoints.
What is disingenuous is when Greg Mikolai says, “I’m disturbed that we have somebody coming in and for all intents and purposes trying to buy our education.” What does he think the teachers’ union is trying to do by contributing large amounts of money to all the union-backed candidates?
Why are we mincing words? The District 51 school-board election is between those candidates who would empower the parents and teachers to reform education and those candidates who would empower the teachers’ union to continue opposing educational reforms.
Candidates’ contributions from billionaire troubling
I have spent most of my life here. No issue raises the hackles of Western Slope people more than the Front Range people messing with us: our water, our funding and our politics.
I was very suspicious when I learned a billionaire from Greenwood Village, Ed McVaney, was the biggest contributor to the campaigns of John Sluder, Michael Lowenstein and Pat Kanda for the District 51 school board. Why would someone from the Front Range meddle with a school board election in Mesa County?
I’m not bothered that MVEA was a big contributor to Tom Parrish’s and Greg Mikolai’s campaigns. If teachers want to support them, it makes sense for the teachers’ organization to contribute. Those teachers live and work here. They understand the strengths and weaknesses of our local school district.
What business does a billionaire from the Front Range have in our local election? Unless, of course, he hopes to “do business” here. Unless, of course, he’s hoping to buy our school board and be able to expand the private schools he owns. I say Western Slope issues need to be resolved by Western Slope people!
Can we really trust candidates who can’t raise enough funds locally and have to get funds from someone living on the Front Range? Sluder, Lowenstein and Kanda have walked into a hornet’s nest by accepting McVaney’s money.
Which candidates are beholden to teachers’ union?
An outside individual named C. Edward McVaney gives $5,000 to each Republican candidate (Pat Kanda, Mike Lowenstein and John Sluder) and it is front-page news on the Daily Sentinel. None of them solicited this money.
Democrat John Williams said he wouldn’t be comfortable taking $5,000 from someone he didn’t know from out of town. Greg Mikolai thinks that McVaney, “for all intents and purposes is trying to buy our public education system.” He thinks a voucher system would strip funding from the public school system.
However, all three liberal candidates — Williams, Tom Parrish and Mikolai — have taken money from either the MVEA or the Denver-based Public Education Committee or both and have more money than their opponents.
From the article in The Daily Sentinel you can see Williams has received $500 from the Denver-based Public Education Committee (must know someone there). Parrish has received $3,000 from the MVEA and $1,000 from the Public Education Committee. Mikolai has received $3,000 from the MVEA and $1,000 from the Public Education Committee, which, of course, is an arm of the state teachers’ union.
One of the jobs of the school board is to negotiate with the teachers’ union. Am I the only one who can see a possible conflict here? The teachers’ union represents its members, the teachers, not necessarily what is best for the students. Will these three feel beholden to the teachers’ union?
I believe what this school district needs are people who are going to look out for the best interests of the students and not feel beholden to the teachers’ union. Vote Pat Kanda, Mike Lowenstein, and John Sluder.
Mikolai ably guided district through tough financial times
We wish to acknowledge and support the recent endorsements of school- board candidates John Williams and Tom Parrish by The Daily Sentinel and the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce. We agree with their assessments of the talents and expertise that these two candidates will bring to the school board, if they are elected.
We wish, however, to urge voters to consider carefully the proven leadership that Greg Mikolai has to offer at this critical time for our public schools. Of the two candidates running for District E, only Mikolai has had to balance serious financial constraints with government mandates, while serving the needs of a very diverse student population and seeking to improve student performance and outcomes.
As described in detail by outgoing school board member Leslie Kiesler in a guest column last Sunday in The Daily Sentinel, District 51 continues to be a leader statewide in the struggle to meet these often competing objectives.
It has only been through collaborative efforts among teachers, administrators and the community, and with the effective and visionary leadership of Greg Mikolai, that these goals have been and will continue to be met.
Over the last few years, when District 51 had to cut $30 million from the budget, it put people’s livelihoods and children’s education at stake. Due in large part to Mikolai’s excellent leadership as school board president and the cooperation of other board members, the board was able to keep the cuts as far away from students as possible.
Although much progress has been made, the financial and educational challenges faced by District 51 have not ended. This is a time to build on recent successes and support the growth and maturation of creative efforts recently implemented and embraced by teachers, parents, administrators and students. It is not a time to change leadership.
Mikolai has demonstrated he is a strong leader who analyzes every issue thoroughly and makes informed decisions. On behalf of the members of Strong Schools, Strong Communities, we urge you to re-elect him.