Editorial: Let local control prevailPublished 9:16am Monday, November 7, 2011
We are confused. State Rep. Pat Garofalo plans to introduce a bill that would bar school districts from holding elections in odd-numbered years.
Garofalo is a Republican. His intentions are ironic because Republicans, the last time we checked, were about granting more local control to school boards and getting state government regulations out of the way.
But here is a Republican who thinks the Legislature knows better than local folks when to hold local school levy elections.
His efforts go against the stand many GOP candidates take when running for the state Legislature. For instance, Republican Kathy Green, an Austin school board member, last year ran against Democratic Sen. Dan Sparks in the Senate District 27 race.
The primary reason Green ran for office — which she stated over and over — was that she wanted to grant more local control to schools. She said when she was younger, parents and other district residents could resolve issues with their schools by going straight to the superintendent, a principal or a school board member. She said these days there are so many state rules that parents are frustrated and feel helpless.
So which way does Garofalo stand in the Republican compass? More regulation or less? More local control or less? Does St. Paul know better than Albert Lea when to hold Albert Lea’s levy elections?
We say let the school boards determine when they want to have elections. After all, why bother electing local school board members if the state doesn’t trust them with a reasonable measure of control?
Furthermore, when school districts hold elections on the odd years, it gives the community time to discuss issues surrounding education of their children. That is what has happened in Austin this past month. When the levy elections happen in even years, the school issues get drowned out by campaigns at the city, county, state, federal levels.
Garofalo and his cohorts can find better things to do with their time. Try crafting a state-level jobs bill that helps get Minnesotans back to work. Wasn’t that what Republicans said they would do when they ran for office in the last even-numbered year?