Letter: Legislator’s plan wrongheaded

“No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed, it has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.” — Winston Churchill.

Regarding your recent story, “Turmoil on School Board prompts legislative proposal,” state Rep. Nancy Landry, R-Lafayette, makes a frankly offensive proposal to throw out democracy and replace it with an unknown. Faced with dysfunction between our parish School Board and our superintendent, she proposes that state voters decide if Lafayette Parish should overturn the way its local schools are governed. She suggests mayor-appointed board members or other methods that would take the responsibility of governing our public schools out of the hands of democratically elected School Board members and put all or some of the power to govern into the hands of appointees. A statewide vote to change our parish, if successful, could lead directly to an appointed commission to determine how to govern our public schools. This would be the very definition of “political appointment.”

When faced with a difficult problem — such as the dysfunction between our School Board and our superintendent — the solution is not to tear down the system. That local elected school boards govern the schools is a long held principle of democracy. It’s not something to be thrown out with the bath water when times get tough.

The solution to the problem of ego-driven or dysfunctional elected representatives is to remove them at the next public election and replace them with more effective leaders. The solution to the problem of an ego-driven or dysfunctional staff person, such as a superintendent, is to fire him or her and hire a more effective leader. Parishes function with an elected school board. School boards must be directly responsible to the voter, not responsible to the politician who appoints them. When faced with a problem, the answer is never to undermine democracy.

Ann Burruss

adjunct professor