Wednesday, November 23, 2005

I have decided what office I am running for in 2006

I spent some time down at The Allen County Election Board yesterday and I have been researching some of the decisions my School District has made recently. I have decided that I will run for Northwest Allen County School Board in 2006. I cannot file the paperwork to run until January of 2006; but, I have just started planning for the campaign.

My daughter will start Kindergarten in the fall of 2006 at Northwest Allen County Schools. My wife and I plan on living in the house we are currently living in for at least 20 more years and my children (Kayla is currently 4 and Graydon is almost 3) will be attending Northwest Allen County Schools K-12. I am concerned with the direction the school system is going and I have decided to run for School Board.

Earlier this year the School District decided to raise our property taxes by 14% in one year to pay for school expansion. They increased taxes in an area that is rapidly growing and has a rapidly growing tax base. The scary thing is the fact that they stated that "Property Tax payers can expect future increases similar to this in future years."

What an appalling decision. Our schools need to educate our children and our Public School system is in need of change. Spending more money is NOT the answer.

According to The Indiana Department of Education itself, Indiana is now spending MORE then twice as much per child per year (Adjusted for inflation) as we did in 1981. It was almost exactly double last year, it is still going up. There seems to be no end in sight. Our property taxes keep SKYROCKETING and we hear "It is for the children."

That is just not true. As we spend more money the quality of our education has declined. My children are better served if my property taxes are lower so that I can spend more money on my children, not so that the schools can turn around and spend my money for me.

Since 1981 our schools have NOT improved, they have gotten worse. This is proved by every educational statistic I could find that is put out by the government. Every single statistic says that our schools have degraded since 1981...

The only logical conclusion I think people can draw is that spending more money is not the answer; unfortunately, this is NOT the conclusion that Northwest Allen County Schools has drawn.

There are several points that I will run for Northwest Allen County School Board on:
1. Property Taxes should only be increased to compensate for inflation.
2. Respect and Personal Responsibility are what we need in our school system.
We need to change the system so that the following groups of people are held
accountable for our school system:
a. The students themselves have to have some responsibility for their actions.
b. The parents must have some responsibility for their children's performance.
c. The teachers must have some responsibility for their students performance.
d. The school administration must have some responsibility for the overall
performance of their schools.
All of these points are common sense; unfortunately, these actions have not been
taken.
3. We need to look for ways to cut the costs of our educational system in the
Northwest Allen County Schools. We need to audit our books and look at ways we
can save money. The costs of education are too high and need to be reduced.
4. We need to show compassion for property owners and ensure that they are living
in a district with a high quality school system AND that they are paying a
reasonable amount in property taxes; currently, we are paying far more then we
should be in property taxes.
5. We need to ensure that The School Board audits the Schools books and controls
runaway spending.

The people I really feel sorry for are those people (And there are a lot of them in this school district) who feel that their children can be better educated by private schools or home schooled. These parents pay for the public system and they pay for the private system.

30 comments:

Lewis said...

Is your view that property taxes only be raised for inflation a short term idea since we are currently spending an exorbitant amount per pupil?
If the number of students in the area were to increase, or there was a capital need such as a new building would you support an increase in property taxes?
Overall, I agree with you insofar as throwing money at the education problem is not the answer. Good Luck

Debbie said...

Some things to consider:

You speak of "reasonable" property taxes. But what the heck does that mean?

Your statements in item number two are also quite vague. I suggest you think of specific proposals for gaining the responsibility you say is so badly needed. Of course since the vague entity of government is in charge of these schools, and people can't freely move around to any government school they choose, it becomes very difficult to demand specific responsibility. Does the ISTEP and Graduation qualifying exam do anything to require the responsibility you desire from the four groups of people? Have NCLB requirements helped increase responsibility?

And don't only feel sorry for just the parents who are taking full responsibility and educating their kids privately. There is a whole other group being screwed, those that don't even have children to be educated, yet they still have to pay too.

And finally, I have to ask, if you think the government schools are doing such a bad job of educating kids (by your comments of how bad it's gotten since 1981), why do you plan to send your children to them? Do you feel you have no other choice?

Robert Enders said...

Even the children of Libertarians can benefit from public schools. Its the things outside the lession plan that are important. Because if we fail, our kids will live in a world in which aspirin is forbidden, special permission must be sought every time an asthma inhaler is needed, but assault and battery will be overlooked. Its best that they get used to it now.

Bartleby said...

Its best that they get used to it now.

Interesting idea. In that case, why not put them into a federal prison for thirteen years? That wold be an even better and more vivid lesson in what is to be expected "if we fail."

By the way, does assimilation into the GOP count as LP "failure"?

Just curious ...

LP Mike Sylvester said...

Bartleby, Bartleby, Bartleby. I have to say that assimilation into the LP DOES count as Libertarian failure.

I was a Republican for many more years then I have been a Libertarian. That is a failure of the Libertarian Party in the past. They never reached me with their message.

In Allen County, most of our members are ex Republicans.

Down the road I think the Libertarian Party can take most of the Republican Party's small government, State's rights, conservatives. We obviously will NOT take the Religious Right...

Bartleby said...

You know, this is what I don't "get" about the face of the LP that I see here online. I'm not criticizing, mind you ... it's you-all's party, you're doing the work, and you should do as you see fit. But when I think "libertarian," I guess I must be thinking back to an older edition ... you know, people like Dr. Harry Browne, who were antistate in a relatively complete, coherent, and consistent way. When I read your writing, or Mr. Kole's, or Mr. Enders', or (especially!) "Uncle" Leo Morris's, it just makes me think of ... well, I don't know whether it's more "Republican Lite" or maybe "Republican Heavy," but it definitely has that GOP flavor. You folks seem to be happy that (most of) the machinery of the State should remain in place; you just want to see it in more-competent, more-thrifty hands. Which is okay, as far as it goes; but I don't think it goes nearly far enough.

I'd be interested in seeing you respond to Debbie's questions.

By the way, you say that the LP "obviously will NOT take the Religious Right" (I agree that you won't, which is one reason for my noninvolvement). But I wonder: what about the Pro-War Right? In other words, is the Allen County LP aligned more with the Harry Browne tradition, or are you-all behind Neil Boortz?

Robert Enders said...

Bartleby, I was being facetious. I half to keep reminding myself that its hard to detect sarcasm when you are reading text.

The all-or-mothing approach that many Libertarians used to take, and that some still do take, has had little influence over public policy. I know how I would like the world to be, but I have to start with the way it already is. Even if the LP wins the White House and wins a majority in the House and a third of the Senate in 2008, we still have a long transitional period ahead of us. Even if we never ever win %5 of the vote, we can still better steer the country into a more Libertarian direction than it already is if we acknowledge that much of the current big government system will be around for a while. In this case, Mike is running for school board, and he'll probably need more to run on than just the property tax issue. He has to establish that it is possible to improve the system without additional spending.

Robert Enders said...

I almost forgot. Jeanette Jaquish, LPAC's vice chair, is probably the most ideologically pure among us. She doesn't blog though. Her website: http://www.angelfire.com/in4/lpac/

is mostly a schedule of upcoming LPAC events.

Bartleby said...

Thanks for your reply, Mr. Enders. (By the way, my suggestion about the 13-year federal prison term was not entirely serious, either.)

I know how I would like the world to be, but I have to start with the way it already is. Even if the LP wins the White House and wins a majority in the House and a third of the Senate in 2008, we still have a long transitional period ahead of us. Even if we never ever win %5 of the vote, we can still better steer the country into a more Libertarian direction than it already is if we acknowledge that much of the current big government system will be around for a while.

Interesting reasoning. Based on it, I suppose I should return to voting GOP ... after all, those huge party machines are already there, whether I like it or not, and I suppose I could maximize my microscopic influence by trying to steer the well-oiled Republican one; after all, here in Allen County, it's quite the juggernaut. Maybe I could get a precinct committee spot and be a soldier in Steve Shine's army. I might make corporal, or even buck sergeant, by the time I'm old enough to die.

You know, I can't help wondering how Patrick Henry's famous address in the Virginia House of Burgesses would have read, if written by one of today's new-edition, electorally-serious Libertarian Party folk. After all, that British Empire was awfully big, awfully powerful, and looked pretty permanent. Better to try to get a small voice in its steering, y'know?

LP Mike Sylvester said...

I will try to answer everyone's comments! Thanks for commenting.

Below are the answers to Lewis's post and Debbies Post (Posts 1 and 2).

Lewis. I think in a school district like NACS that is growing and its tax base is growing there is never a reason to raise porperty taxes by 14% in a year and have the gall to tell poeple to inexcpect similar increases in the next couple of years.

Debbie. Unfortunately property taxes are one of the means we currently use to fund local government. I wish we would use other taxes; but, we do not. I like the idea of using a true market value to implement a property tax system. I think we should eliminate all exemptions (Including mortage, homestead, etc). I furthermore think there should be a state mandate cap on property taxes. I think the MEXIMUM property tax anyone should EVER have to pay is 1%. (Note this would currently drop my proeprty taxes to about half of what they are now.

Of course my comment in two are vague. I am running for office and making a brief post about where I stand. I am not writing a 25 page dissertation on how to fix the schools. I will write a ONE page paper stating what I want to do. No one wants to read anything longer then that.

ZOf course NCLB is a terrible idea. I have always felt that we should abolish the Department of Education!

Why do I plan on sending my kids to public schools Debbie asks. That is much easier to answer. If you do not send you children to public schools you have two c hoices in Fort Wayne. The first is to Home School. Neither me nor my wife have the patience to Home School our kids, so that is out. The second choice is a religious private school. I 100% agree that private schools do a better job; however, I currently do not want to send my kids to a private school. By God I will have paid about $4000 this year in property taxes, I want to get something out of it.

That is why I am running for school board. To change the school system I live in. If more Americans would do that America would be a better place.

LP Mike Sylvester said...

Answer to batleby's second comment.

I think The Libertarian Party has changed and is much less anti-state. If The LP was anti-state I would NOT be in the LP.

The LP believes in fiscal policies the Republican Party used to beleive in. Most of us believe in abolishing The Federal Department of Education. I personally WOULD like to see the Federal government cut in half. That is a pretty serious cut!

I think all earmarks for Representatives and Senators should be removed, I think Amtrack should be removed, I think about 100 various Federal Programs should be abolished, I think the Federal government should have nothing to do with Welfare, etc.

Robert Enders said...

Bartleby, the Founding Fathers did try to petition Parliment and the Crown for change before the Declaration of Independance was signed.

Politics is quite often a game of balancing idealism with reality. Had the abolitionists among the Patriots of that era decided that they would not enter into an alliance with those who practiced slavery, then today we would all spell the word "color" with a "u".

Mike Kole said...

Bartleby-

Glad you brought up the fact that I am among the moderate-sounding Libertarians here in Indiana. Consider two things to see why I take a moderate, incremental approach.

1. Since we are on the subject of schools, consider the reaction of the average parent. Say he has four kids, aged 7-14. The Libertarian extreme or endpoint position is that public schools should be abolished tomorrow and replaced with private schools only.

He hears this and he rushes to help a Republican or Democrat. It is important to consider why this is the logical, rational thing for him to do.

Most parents do not have significant savings, sadly. Most parents have an entitlement mentality that includes the expectation of public schools. Having to pay for private education might cost $10k per child. The Libertarian endpoint position means an immediate cost of $40k you him for several years to come. He HAS TO work against the Libertarian candidate.

2. Think of the spectrum of economic thought, from left to right. On the left (but extreme furthest left), you have the Democrats. Somwhere in the middle, you have the Republicans. The Libertarian extreme is on the far right.

It is understood that speaking fiscal conservatism will not appeal to the left. So, the opportunity for Libertarian candidates to appeal to their potential voters can result in a divide of voters at a range determined by the dialogue.

If the Libertarian and Republican are as far away as possible, the best the Libertarian can do is split those voters in half.

If the Libertarian position is very close to the Republicans, but slightly more fiscally conservative, the Libertarian stands to take all of the voters more extreme than the position taken, and split the rest of the fiscal conservatives in half.

In reality, many fiscal conservatives conclude that the extreme Libertarian position is either unwinnable or untennable, so they vote Republican.

The bargaining position of the Libertarian candidate, such as myself, improves dramatically if trying to discredit Republicans as fiscal conservatives when I take a position such as 'cut the budget 1%'. It puts gneuine pressure on the Republicans to actually meet that objective, for if they can't even cut 1%, their base finally knows it can't count on the GOP to do anything with their majorities. If I was taking a cut 50% approach, they don't have to respond to me at all. They can dismiss me as a dreamer, tinfoil hat wearer, etc.

I like the Libertarian philosophers to take extreme positions. That is the role of the editorial writer.

Libertarian candidates have taken extreme positions for over 30 years, and have less than 1% nationally to show for it. Here in Indiana, we have been increasingly choosing not to fulfill Einstein's definition of insanity, but rather, are taking a different approach, because as we have seen, if policy is to be an all-or-nothing proosition, we will get nothing. 30 years of proof back me up.

LP Mike Sylvester said...

I certainly would have to agree with Roberts last post on this thread. Well put Robert!

While I want to Federal government to be HALF the sizr it is today, I know that cannot happen for a long time. While I want The Federal Budget to be about half of its current size, that cannot happen in a day either.

Instead I propose solutions like let's cut the budget by 1% across the board and removed all spending increases. I want to see a budget next year that is SMALLER then this years budget!

We have to take small steps or we will never take any steps.

Bartleby said...

Well, my sincere thanks for your replies, gentlemen, which have been highly illuminating. I'll stand by and wait for the legislature to fill up with the successful results of your new, modern, Realpolitik-based approach.

Robert Enders said...

Don't stnad by and wait! Get involved! The public needs us to keep the GOP honest, and we need you to keep us honest!

Mike Kole said...

Bartelby, I get the frustration with the moderate approach, but how many Libertarian legislators have been elected with an end-point approach? That's right, zero.

I know that some Libertarians are happy as can be with 0.72% ballot results so long as the ideologically extreme position is taken by the Party and its candidates. I certainly used to take that position, but as I get older, I find that I am impatient for real changes, and it just hasn't happened in 30 years of the extreme approach. 30 years!

I am encouraged by Rebecca Sink-Burris' 4.2% statewide finish in 2002 with a somewhat moderate approach. I am encouraged by the election of Judge Susan Bell in Hagerstown. Indiana's numbers are better than anyone else's in the nation. Indiana takes the most moderate approach of any state affiliate. Are we somehow less principled?

What mattered most to me was that I came to the realization that I wasn't sacrificing any priniciples while taking a moderate position. I still fully believe in the endpoint positions as a place to work towards. The approach taken is a result of strategic planning.

I believe we will get there by being more fully included in the public dialogue and by winning smaller offices first in local elections- nobody starts at CEO after all. There's nothing better than a track record of success, and I believe people will give us the chance at the local level on the strength of a more moderate message. From there, we go to the Statehouse.

Check out the results from the statewide 2004 ballot. Our numbers are inversely proportional to the statewide offices we were seeking.

Debbie said...

So many things to comment on, so little time. :) Since this is Mike S's blog, I'll first have to focus on his specific responses to me.

"I think the MEXIMUM property tax anyone should EVER have to pay is 1%. (Note this would currently drop my proeprty taxes to about half of what they are now."

Okay, but so what? If you say there is indeed a legitimate maximum, then you are setting yourself up for much disagreement. It's only a matter of opinion now as to how much of your money the government should take. And you become no different than any other politician out there trying to take control. Someone might say 1.5% is necessary because (and you can simply fill in this with almost anything since we have now legitimized that government should indeed take a piece of your property without your consent.)

About your comments in number 2 being vague: You think it's proper to be vague simply because you are running for office? Well, I suppose I can understand that if you are going to model yourself on the politicians that came before you. But don't you want to be different? Why do you have to write a huge dissertation to be more specific on how one of those groups could be made to be more responsible? Is it really that complicated?

And how about this: If you want those groups to be more responsible, then one of the best ways to help that happen is to truly lead by example and take responsibility of your own kids' education outside of government. Then work to help other families take the same responsibility until one day there is simply no need for government involvement in education.

But that will never happen if certain groups don't start taking responsibility first. And one of the logical groups would be those who espouse the libertarian philosophy.

Debbie said...

"I think The Libertarian Party has changed and is much less anti-state. If The LP was anti-state I would NOT be in the LP."

"The LP believes in fiscal policies the Republican Party used to beleive in."

I like how you keep honestly saying that, for you, the LP is simply a nice replacement for the Republican Party. The irony is that there are those who have left the LP for the exact same reasons.

Debbie said...

Now a response to Mike Kole...

About your example on taking the moderate approach and relating it to education reforms. By taking this approach, you totally miss the chance to help people think of, and investigate, real alternatives. If someone is running off simply because they think their only other choice is $40,000, then they have not been informed of all the choices available. And the moderate approach keeps all that misinformation alive. That is only one problem I have seen with the incremental approach.

Your other example, focusing on economic issues, hits more upon Bartleby's concerns I bet (although I don't speak for him.) I know he's against the Iraq war for example. So if the LP takes moderate stances on economic issues, then it's logical to assume they would take moderate stances on all other issues which would include national defense and war. But if the LP focused on handling each issue based on a solid principle and not based on going just a tad further than one of the other parties are currently, then he could think the LP might have something to offer. But if he sees the LP pick and choose moderate approaches when it seems most convenient, then why pick the LP over any other party out there?

Mike Kole said...

Debbie- Remember that I am not compaigning to the people I believe already are inclined to vote for me. It's fairly pointless to chase the 1-4% I already have at the expense of the 96-99% I don't have. If I am to spread Libertarian principles, I have the task of reaching the people we haven't reached before.

Many of Indiana's voters are sports fans first. Many only think of how they vote one week outside the election. Many only think of it once they've been screwed by our government.

I have done much in the way of single-issue appeal so far in the campaign. I am working with the people in the Geist neighborhood to fight a forced annexation. It is the only subject I volunteer to speak about. Now, when I am asked where I stand on issues, I tell them. But why would I do anything but build the bridge where I know I have agreement?

I've actually seen candidates hear someone say, "I like your position on taxes," and the candidate responds, "let me tell you about marijuana". That kind of oblivious rush towards what's important to the candidate over what's important to the voter is astonishing.

I guess the campaign trail and a hard look at the average person's attention span has also pushed me in the direction I take.

I always have to step back and remind myself that I am very likely not much like the person I'm speaking to when I am campaigning. I remind myself that the average person gives me one shot and 5 seconds to strike the right chord. If I mess up, or they immediately get a sense of cognitive dissonance, I've lost them.

Believe me- I would rather have a state full of Debbies and Bartlebys out there, who will seriously consider the entire context of what I am saying and make their rebuttals in a considered way. Alas. The public will dismiss you out of hand if they don't hear exactly what they want, and quickly. They never give you enough time to really make the case fully, unless you are running for President, which is why Harry Browne (et al) get to go on in so much more detail.

As I said before, I am grateful for the editorial writers and the philosophers who advance our end-point positions, such as yourself. But I find that the best opportunity to enunciate the next step towards that endpoint is when you can claim victory on the first incremental step. When we beat the 1% food & beverage tax in Fishers, we stated that it was time to look at scaling back other taxes in the Town. Believe me: I'm not satisfied with small gains. I'll press onward!

Mike Kole said...

I failed to address something.

Check out my position on forced annexation. There is nothing moderate about it. It's on the top of my blog and campaign site, and will be for several days to come

I definitely think it appropriate to take an individual look at where you can be moderate and where you can be extreme. When there is broad sentiment in your favor, it makes perfect sense to be extreme. Often, when public sentiment is most harshly against you, it is a great time to be extreme.

However, when extreme positions make it so that you could lose all, why take them? To feel good about righteousness of the position taken? Why not grab Nero's fiddle and start playing then?

With most things, getting the whole enchilda simply isn't among our choices, as far as I can tell. Our choices are: Get a fractional gain in policy, get no gain, or worse, repel policy away from where you want it to go. Which of these looks best to you?

Robert Enders said...

Bartleby, have you attended any LPAC meetings or events? You would possess a great deal more of influence if you help me hand out pamphlets

Bartleby said...

Robert Enders said...

Bartleby, have you attended any LPAC meetings or events? You would possess a great deal more of influence if you help me hand out pamphlets


1. Nope, I haven't been to any LP meetings.

2. I'm not here to have influence. I'm here to bear witness to truth as I see it.

3. These pamphlets of which you speak: would they say what you really think, or would they say whatever you calculate would attract the most voters to the LP? What would they say about the War on Turr'r? What would they say about the huge standing army maintained by the United State?

I appreciate the invitation -- I really do! -- but if I wanted Republican, I don't think I'd be out working for Republican Lite. I suppose I'd go sell the real, rich, full-bodied Steve Shine brew.

(Besides, Mike's already said you-all aren't taking the Religious Right.)

LP Mike Sylvester said...

I did not say we are not taking the religious right...

I said I do not think the the religious right would like our views...

Mike

Bartleby said...

From your first reply in this thread, above:

Down the road I think the Libertarian Party can take most of the Republican Party's small government, State's rights, conservatives. We obviously will NOT take the Religious Right...

I'm sure you meant it as you've just said, though. And I agree ... I don't think that many Religious Right folk would sign up with the LP.

(I'm not sure what "Religious Right" means these days, anyway. In my case: I detest the legalized baby-killing that's been rampant since 1973 ... but I also detest the militarism and wog-killing mindset that's been mainstream in the U.S. since ... well, pretty much the beginning, I suppose. I also detest the so-called "drug war" and the alienation and militarization of the cops that it has done so much to produce. So I don't think that either the LP or Falwell, Robertson, Dobson and so on have much use for me. So be it.)

Seriously, I appreciate the exchange of ideas that has taken place in this thread. It's planted an idea or two in my mind that I might post about at "my own place." And I do hope for your success in the NACS board contest next year. I think your service on that board will do both you and NACS some good.

LP Mike Sylvester said...

I agree with you.

I am SURE I would learn a lot as a member of The School Board. I am sure there are many factors involved that I currently know nothing about!

Robert Enders said...

If you are willing to hand them out and are willing to pay the printing cost, then the pamplets can say whatever you want them to say.

No two intelligent people are going to agree on everything. In politics, the goal is to get a few intelligent people and a lot of dumb people on your side. so that you can come up with the plurality of votes needed to win.

Mike Kole said...

Robert- How accurately said! We didn't write the rules of the game, but we'll do our best to win it anyway!

Anonymous said...

Here is were it all begins:
2. Respect and Personal Responsibility are what we need in our school system.
We need to change the system so that the following groups of people are held
accountable for our school system:
a. The students themselves have to have some responsibility for their actions.
b. The parents must have some responsibility for their children's performance.
c. The teachers must have some responsibility for their students performance.
d. The school administration must have some responsibility for the overall
performance of their schools.


NC