In her 10/23 readers' forum letter, former superintendent Virginia Poling wrote, "In Norwalk, we are fortunate to have a public school system that has seen rising test scores, increasing student enrollments, and financial strength and stability for a number of years." While it is true that the last two years have seen progress in the Norwalk district's viability, as recently as 2005 we were classified as an "at risk" district, having only met 12 of 23 state indicators. While we can take pride in our recent improvements, it would hardly be accurate to describe the current school board's tenure as a resounding success, as these improvements have simply brought us up to the same standards that other area school districts, such as South Central, Bellevue, and Berlin-Milan, have enjoyed for years.
Conversely, voters must also recall that the current school board has presided over a number of well-publicized instances of unethical and even illegal behavior on the part of the school administrators, of which the 2005 forging of school fire drill records is the most notorious example. In their handling of these embarrassing incidents, the current board members obstinately refused to take any serious disciplinary action.
This situation voters face in November might be framed by what economists refer to as "marginal analysis:" are the benefits of maintaining the status quo worth the sacrifices we, as taxpayers and citizens, must make in terms of the accountability and transparency of our public servants? Steve Linder is certainly as qualified and capable as the two candidates Mrs. Poling explicitly mentions in her letter, but he has also expressed a willingness to challenge inappropriate or unprofessional actions on the part of school administrators. There is no evidence, objective or otherwise, that suggests the performance of the current school board has been exceptional; however, its members have fostered an overly permissive climate that shields wayward public servants from scrutiny. Electing Linder will help restore an appropriately adversarial tone to the school board, and will represent the first step towards restoring accountability to our schools.