This school board election is a difficult one, and emotions are running high. I’m going to err on the side of optimism and assume that we all want what’s best for our kids (they ALL are OUR kids). What that looks like can sometimes be hard to discern. Most of us want integrated schools, AND we don’t want to put the lion’s share of the burden of desegregation on our most vulnerable students and families. We want neighborhood schools, AND we want them to be socioeconomically balanced, with reasonable class sizes, in world-class facilities, with top-notch teachers, AND all at a budget we can afford. We all want to move forward, AND, we want to get this right.Unfortunately, there are no good, much less perfect, solutions to some of the problems we face. We have intelligent, good-hearted, capable candidates with a variety of ideas on how to get where we want to go. How do we choose?The person I hope to see in the now-vacant school board seat is JP Claussen, and my reasoning boils down to trust. I’ve know JP for several years, and I trust him to:
- Put students first. With a decade of experience as a teacher in the ICCSD, JP has a heart for students and will always make their needs the #1 priority, even when that isn’t easy.
- Be knowledgeable. JP has an MA in special education from the UI, with expertise in behavior and social/emotional development. He is well-informed, with a nuanced understanding of the issues and the research behind them. He will do his homework and look for sound, holistic solutions rather than band-aid fixes.
- Err on the side of justice. JP been committed to working for social justice his entire career, and he has a deep understanding of how issues of race and socioeconomics (not the same thing) intersect with education. He will always make sure the marginalized have a voice at the table.
- Show visionary leadership. JP believes in educating the whole child in creative schools that prepare them for the uncertainties of the 21st century — an education that is more individualized than standardized. He knows our kids are much, much more than a test score.
- Work well with others. As former president and chief negotiator for the ICEA, JP has experience in working with people with whom he disagrees. He is a natural communicator and peacemaker who looks for win-win solutions. He is calm, patient, reasonable, respectful, and exceedingly kind.
- Listen and learn. JP is open-minded, fair, and flexible, willing to hear and learn from others and adjust his views as new information comes to light.
- Be fiercely honest and independent. With JP, what you see is what you get. The guy has integrity. There are and will be no nefarious motives or backroom deals. He is no one’s “pawn.”
Bottom line: I respect this guy and am confident he will be an excellent board member for the next three years, not just the first couple of controversial votes. To learn more about his positions on the issues, visit jpforschoolboard.com.
I hope you will join me in voting for JP on or before July 19.