School board elections really do matter

How much do you know about the candidates for Wood County School Board? Who will you vote for? Believe it or not, many will either vote for an incumbent, someone whose name they recognize, or the names they have seen most often on the little cardboard signs posted in every conceivable place across the county, even though this board holds the future of our children in their hands for several years. That is truly sad.

In an effort to help others learn more about the candidates, a committee from the Freedom Alliance for We The People undertook to interview all the candidates. Only one, Jim Fox, refused to meet with us. Nine candidates agreed. For a summary of our findings (without recommendations), please go to They cover some areas that did not appear in the News and Sentinel report last week.

School boards have frequently become bogged down in the politics of budgets, union contracts, and personnel controversies that they scarcely give any attention at all to what really matters – our children. How do I know? Look at the Board’s time spent on the Parkersburg Stadium debacle. Do board members ever spend one-tenth as much time speaking out about the past and ongoing practices of ideologically-slanted curriculum being used within Wood County Schools to effectively teach kids what to think instead of how to think? Does that shock anyone? How many believe it is even true?

All nine of the candidates interviewed by our committee expressed either surprise or shock at specific examples – hard evidence – provided to them in the interviews. Only one made vague references to even being aware of any claims of bias in the textbooks and classroom materials. Are they oblivious, or are there board members who are turning a blind eye to what is going on under their noses? Are they afraid that the topic might be too political or controversial? Make no mistake, folks, it is happening every day using West Virginia-approved textbooks.

Several candidates were even unaware of the scope of their authority under the West Virginia State Code to affect any change to the state of classroom teaching in Wood County. An overwhelming majority agreed that this one issue – bias and indoctrination in the classroom – was “extremely important” and “worthy of attention” but none raised a single, specific comment when submitting their positions to the News and Sentinel last month (just after all had been interviewed by our committee and made aware of the evidence).

Defensive arguments we have heard include that it is up to the school administrators to deal with these kinds of issues, not the school board. Make no mistake. School boards should set the policies under which the administration operates since they are supposed to represent the parents and citizens.

The hue and cry among many in our community sings the praises of “local control” of our schools. Rightly so. The less federal/state involvement and influence the better. However, in order to truly achieve local control of your Wood County Schools your school board must accurately reflect and execute the will of the community. If the community has no will to demand excellence from their schools, then how are the board members to know which way to go? Isn’t it time to make your votes for school board as important as your choice of a doctor for your kids? School Boards Matter!

Tell your school board on May 13 that you want members who worry about the classrooms as well as the locker rooms.

Tom Stark is a Parkersburg businessman. Freedom Alliance for We The People is a non-partisan group of Mid-Ohio Valley citizens committed to responsible, constitutionally limited government and a better community for all.