I am running again for school board because of my commitment to public education. Over 90% of all American children attend public schools, without which they would not have the knowledge and skills necessary to support and participate in the democratic process. Our public schools are also the foundation of the middle class, giving students the opportunities they need to be independent and contributing members of society. Public schools thus don’t just benefit those with children; they benefit everyone.
These are the principles I think are most important for supporting public education in our community right now:
Our children will live and work in a world transformed by the information revolution. Schools must adapt to the realities of this new world. They need to prepare our children for creative thinking, for work in flexible teams, for adaptation to changing technology, and for interaction with citizens around the world. This preparation must go beyond what standardized tests currently measure, particularly in science and the arts. And it requires difficult, but exciting, changes to how we approach traditional subjects such as reading and math.
I take the responsibility of school board members to be stewards of public resources very seriously. We need to cut waste in our district, reform the education bureaucracy, and get the best overall value for our tax dollars over the long term. Fiscal responsibility means getting taxpayers the best deal possible for excellent, innovative schools. It sometimes means making painful cuts in order to minimize taxes or make resources available for more pressing needs. But it also means avoiding being penny wise and pound foolish - that is, making regular investments and maintenance now to avoid much larger costs in the future. More than anything, fiscal responsibility means finding the right balance between the needs of all stakeholders in our community, including taxpayers, students, and everyone else.
Both our students and our taxpayers deserve policies and choices in our schools that are supported by facts and evidence. Quite honestly, I’ve been surprised how often important decisions are made with little research and even less data to show such decisions will be beneficial to our students or our community. Too often people want to base decisions on either empty political rhetoric or ‘how we’ve always done it.’ I think both are irresponsible ways to decide how to educate kids in a complex world, or how to spend more than $140 million of taxpayer money annually. We need school board members to be pragmatic, creative, and open to new ideas, not using ideological talking points to make decisions. We deserve members with the skills and experience to demand and understand the best research and data before making decisions.
The public has a right to know what their elected officials are doing and how they are making decisions. But just as importantly, I believe elected officials can make BETTER decisions when community members are knowledgeable about the issues and their voices are heard in the decision-making process. This is one reason I support making school board meetings available via television or online video. It is also why I continue to write about the concerns facing our district online as well as regularly meet personally with community members to discuss our schools. Over the course of the last four years, I have written dozens of articles, and posted material online hundreds of times, to help keep East Penn citizens informed about the schools, ask for their ideas and advice, and state my own point of view clearly and honestly.
I am asking for your support. I can’t promise you will agree with every vote or decision I make -- nobody can. But I can commit to you that everything I do on the board will be guided by these principles.
I don’t want to ask for money. It is, in fact, the part of running for school board that I most dislike. But I need to do it. Would you please make a donation to help my campaign? I will use it to pay for yard signs, print small cards to give to people as I go door to door in the coming weeks, and help defray the cost of my website. No donation is too small to help with these costs, whether it is $5, $20 or $50-- every little bit helps.
I do have the following requirements for all contributions, in keeping with the principles of my campaign:
I will only accept donations from individuals living within the East Penn School District. No outside money. Our community should decide the future of our schools, not outside interests.
I will only accept donations of $50 or less. This is a community campaign for all of us, not just a few big donors.
Will you do your part? You can contribute right now with a major credit card by clicking the “Donate” button below. Or, if you prefer, you can mail a check to Citizens to Elect Munson, 305 N. 2nd St., Emmaus PA 18049. If you can’t make a financial donation at this time, I need a lot of help in other ways too!
I am running for a second term on the East Penn School Board. Over the course of the last three years, I have heard from or sat down with hundreds of you to share hopes and concerns about our school district and our community. These conversations have taught me valuable lessons about how much we all share in common. Like so many of you, I understand the value of public education, the importance of both innovation and fiscal responsibility in our schools, the need for transparency and honesty, and the desire for district decisions based on facts and evidence rather than the talking points of our dysfunctional political parties.
School board members are unpaid volunteers. I am volunteering to serve a second term because these shared community principles are important to me. I find it rewarding to not simply complain about our schools, but roll up my sleeves and help find practical solutions to the challenges we face.
In my first three years, I have been involved in board decisions on debt restructuring that have saved taxpayers millions of dollars, on modifying school schedules that added more than thirty hours of instructional time to our elementary classrooms without raising costs, and on modernizing district policies that in some cases haven’t been changed in decades. As those who regularly attend school board meetings can tell you, I have been a consistent, vocal advocate for our entire community, including children, taxpayers, parents, teachers, residents, and others on a wide variety of issues.
I hope you will give me the opportunity to continue this work by voting for me in the upcoming primary election on May 16th. Please explore this website to learn more about me and the issues in our school district. You'll also find links at the bottom of each page to get more information via my blog, email, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
A group of 5th grade students from Lincoln Elementary spoke at the school board meeting this past Monday. They had worked with their teacher Mrs. Blose to write essays urging the superintendent and the board to allow for early dismissal for elementary students taking the PSSAs, just like the current practice for high school students taking midterms and finals.
It was great to read their well crafted letters, as well as see their poise as they presented the board with their key arguments. They set a great example to everyone for how to get involved in shaping district policies. I hope you'll take a moment to read their letters below (you can click on each for a closer view).