The column the Bugeteer didn't publish on my being a "target"

I love being on the Duluth School Board but my friends always marvel at my attitude. There seems to be a perception that its a "thankless job." In fact, if I got a nickel for every time I heard someone say that, I would probably double my $6,000 dollar annual "salary." But last night I got a taste of the thanklessness people are always talking about. The President of the Teacher’s Union told me that I would be a "target" in the next election. I guess that means he’ll be taking aim a little south of the apple on my head.

You see, last night was one of those nights. We had a heated issue and a marathon meeting. The current school board took a controversial vote before the new school board takes office in January. That the vote was merely symbolic and had no practical effect made little difference. Several hundred parents, many with children, came to take part in our discussion. Fortunately, their passion did not prevent them from speaking politely and articulately no matter which side they were on. The issue was Edison and whether the School Board was willing to reaffirm its original intent to let the school expand from the eighth grade where it currently stops, to the ninth grade and the tenth grade, year by year, until it is a complete K-12 school.

To dissuade us, the Teacher’s Union President showed many old documents which describe the Edison program as a K-5 and a 6-8 school, as if to say that’s all Edison was ever meant to be. Afterwards, I took the opportunity to ask the many Edison parents in the audience if they had been told that Edison would expand year by year to become a K-12 school. When all the parents raised their hands I observed that anyone not realizing this had not been paying attention.

Later during a recess the Union President came up to the podium and told our Superintendent that he was a "liar," to which the Superintendent responded that the Union President was "a _________ liar." I had been talking with a parent and quickly ushered her out of harm’s way to a quiet corner to continue our conversation. When I returned to the podium I was amazed to see the Superintendent and the Union President shaking hands. Pleased that the imbroglio was apparently over I made some cheerful comment to the Union President. It was then, with his eyes sparkling, that he informed me though a clenched smile of my new status as an arrow catcher.

Is this a thankless job? Naw! I had lots of people after the meeting thanking me for one thing or another. Better yet. You should see the wonderful collection of thank yous I’ve collected from our children after reading in their classrooms. In the last two years I’ve read to well over a thousand children in dozens of classrooms. Even now my black bag of books is waiting for new invitations to read. You should hear "Pig Pig Grows Up." It makes quite an impression on the first graders I read to. It has a happy ending: " . . . and after that Pig Pig was never a baby again." I know a couple of adults I’d like to read it to.