Teachers union needs to stay out of board election

To the Editor:

As I near the end of my second year of service on the Westerville Board of Education and watch the campaigns to fill three board seats, I feel compelled to comment.

There is a perception nationally that unions control school districts to the detriment of students and taxpayers. Locally, that perception is driven by the control exerted over the school board by the Westerville Education Association.

The union has long engaged in the practice of endorsing and campaigning for the school board members with whom it will later negotiate its wages and benefit contracts. Their preferred candidates form a majority of the Westerville Board of Education today.

Unfortunately for board member Kevin Hoffman, he displeased the union recently. He no longer enjoys the support WEA provided him in previous campaigns. It will be difficult for him to retain his seat. So the message is delivered to all those elected by WEA's money and campaign muscle, past, present and in elections still to come: Live by the union, die by the union.

From my experience, I know it is nearly impossible to match the money and the volunteer support of the union. With tens of thousands of voters to reach during a districtwide campaign, it is truly a David vs. Goliath undertaking. It is a primary reason that capable, ethical people will not run for school board seats.

WEA's election activities certainly are legal. But they are destructive to the school district, and costly to its residents. This is a practice which should have ended long ago, but which only voters have the power to stop.

Dr. Carol French
member, Westerville Board of Education