The Valdosta Board of Education — every single member — must be representative and transparent.
We have said it several times, and we are going to say it here once again. We are going try to say it in a different way in hopes that we can get through to board members on behalf of the people of Valdosta.
Ladies and gentlemen of the board, when you were voted in to office, you were elected to serve the public.
In your capacity as a member of the school board, you do work for yourselves.
You do not work for a cause group, some undisclosed special interests or to serve a hidden agenda.
Nor do you work for the school system's administration.
You do not work for the school system's lawyer.
You were not elected to represent the school system.
You have likely been trained to be the champion and chief supporters of the system, but that training is faulty.
When you decided to run for office, you were essentially pledging to represent the public.
That is how a representative form of government works. Ours is a representative form of government — a Republic.
The board of education is not the school system.
It is government.
You are government.
Essentially, your role is no different than sitting on city council, the county commission or any other branch of government.
Your job, as a board member, is to set public policy that then must be implemented by professional staff.
No one should be telling you what to do, other than the public — the people of Valdosta.
The whole notion that your role is to "support the system" is antithetical to our form of representative government.
When you make decisions, those decision are not to be made in the best interest of or on behalf of the system. Rather, you are elected to make decisions on behalf of the people whom you are elected to represent, that means your school board district and then the whole city.
Once you hold office, you are a member of the city school board, not merely your district, but the whole city of Valdosta.
Toeing the line regarding what the system wants — whether that means central office as a whole, the administration, the superintendent of schools or the board attorney — is not representative government.
Our government is not supposed to be run by bureaucrats or professionals. Decisions on policy are to be made by our surrogates, our representatives, our board members.
So, we are asking each board member: Who are you taking direction from? Who are you listening to? Whose orders are you following? Who is telling you what to do?
Is it your district? Is it the men and women of Valdosta?
Or are you taking your orders from administrators and lawyers?
Government is only of, by and for the people when you represent the people and you do so in open and transparent ways.
In case you are wondering which board members we are speaking to here, let us be plain and direct – we are speaking to all of you.
The people want to know why you did not renew the contract of former high football coach Alan Rodemaker.
The people want to know what factored into your decision to hire new high school football coach Rush Propst.
We are not saying that Rodemaker should have been retained or that Propst should not have been hired.
What we are saying is that the people of Valdosta deserve answers, and it is your responsibility to give them the answers they deserve.
That is why you were elected.