Parents are upset they are being played by the Methacton School Board (MSD). The MSD threatens the closure of 2 elementary schools to get the parents up in arms – to save their schools. A meeting is called and 7 plans are presented. Only one of them is realistic – to close one of the two schools.
The MSD is in the jam because they built a new middle school using faulty data claiming we would be over-crowded. Now they claim to be underutilized. That was after shutting down the Transitional First program and reducing languages like German. They claim to have no cash – after outsourcing the cafeteria and transport services and holding the teacher’s contract for around 2 years. Numerous lawsuits inflicted by the MSD themselves have drained cash.
This isn’t the first time the MSD has played to a crowd. In 2011, the worked everyone up for a new athletic field they promised would be ready for spring 2012. They won their election and there is still no field in 2015. Last year they spent a good chunk of change trying to get lighted fields.
Parents and the public are feeling gamed and angry. Because everyone complains about politics, no one has studied how to enact change by using the systems in place. All the people involved in politics are scummy – why should we deal with them?
The civic fabric of the American Democracy is destroyed and one-party systems can run rampant.
Wanna fix it? Here is one method.
The MSD has set the decision date for closing the school just AFTER the primary election on May 19th. A majority of the MSD are up on the 19th. Hand them a stunning loss then dare them to override the wishes of an enraged and engaged electorate.
Learn some rules locally. Pennsylvania has a closed primary system. That means you need to be a Democrat or Republican to even enter the polling booth. First step is to make sure your base is registered with one of the two parties.
Next put up so many candidates the establishment GOP cannot get ballot access easily. The rules for the primary are different. In PA, there is cross-filing. A process that is supposed to make things less partisan, but in reality, makes it worse. Each major party (D/R) will have 5 ballot positions available for the November election.
The location of candidates for the General election is set by the number of votes gained in the primary. So cross-filed candidate “A” gets the most votes from the Republicans in the primary and the third most votes from the Democratic primary they will appear twice; position 1 for the GOP and position 3 for the Dems.
How do you get on the primary ballot? You file a nominating petition with 10 ‘good’ signatures. Get at least 15 withstand a challenge to say they are ‘good’. If you are candidate “B” and a member of the Democrats, you can pass around a petition ONLY TO DEMS. You need a buddy from the GOP to get your GOP signatures.
Once you file your ballots with something called an Ethics Form for each petition (gotta love the idea of the ‘Ethics’ form…) at the county board of elections a drawing will be held to determine your PRIMARY ballot position. As cross-filed candidate “B” you may be position 11 on the GOP and position 5 on the Dems. The further down the ballot you randomly land; the more difficult your task. Lots of people walk into the voting booth and just hit the first 5 names. The petitions need to be notarized and filed by 3/10. The parents may want to have a signature party on Sunday 3/8 complete with a couple of Notary Publics. Each form needs to be notarized 3 times and it could run into real money.
Part of this solution is to overload the ballot with parents learning how to perform civics that it denies the establishment GOP access to their own ballot positions. This is about teaching a group of people that the system CAN work if they learn it – a practical application of democracy.
20 candidates from a parents group becomes a newsworthy story in and of itself. Anyone know a publicist?
3/18 is the ballot position selection date.
Many times a candidate will find their ballot position so poor they will want to drop out. Candidates have until 3/25 to do so.
Once the field is thinned, the parents might want to get a hall for a televised firing squad. Lob questions at all remaining filed candidates. Make note of who does not show. Do not turn this process over to the political parties. They are in it for their own interests. This is the parents’ deal.
Then the parents group needs to have a discussion with itself to determine their candidates. You may want to discuss game theory ramifications of who is where on the ballot. Even if you are a placeholder you may get no votes, but those who remain will be voted for in unison by the group.
Given the small number of people who vote in primaries, the prospect for success is great. If less than 10% of a population show up that means 5% are going to tell the other 95% the way it should be.
Increase that turnout – and you might have something that looks like democracy.