Friday, May 11, 2007

Hurst, Burke and Ward Representation

So Joe Burke is being offered another two-year contract as school superindendent—with raises along the way—by the Springfield School Committee. The fact that he so clearly wants out of Springfield (applications all over Florida) and has brought absolutely nothing positive to the Springfield school system didn’t matter when the votes were counted.

Antoinette Pepe, Marjorie Hurst and Mayo Ryan voted against offering Burke a contract.

I wonder if Marge Hurst would like to rethink her opposition to ward representation for the school committee?

During the city council debate about ward representation this past Monday, Councilor Domenic Sarno read a letter from Hurst into the record, where she complained that the school committee had never been asked their opinion about ward representation. This was just a day prior to the school committee’s vote on Burke.

The particular “8 & 5” version of ward representation being promoted by city council is entirely their version, and not the one that a coalition of community groups, including Arise, has been promoting for years.

However, I know that Marjorie Hurst and her husband Fred, two people I admire very much, were invited into our coalition years ago. They stayed true to their conservative philosophy, however, and declined.

Compare the Hursts’ opposition to ward representation to Bud Williams. I am still flabbergasted that Williams dared to say that ward rep was a good idea fifteen years ago, but not now. Then why did he oppose that good idea fifteen years ago?

Williams is now saying that, based on sheer numbers in the population, people of colors’ day has finally come, and that ward representation is no longer needed to get people of color elected to city council and school committee.

If his theory is true, then based on the numbers, women should have been holding fifty percent of the elected seats just about forever ago. Being the majority—or close to it—has not been enough to overcome institutionalized sexism and racism, or we’d be seeing the effects in who holds elected office.

Williams and Hurst should check out this morning’s Boston Globe, where McCormack Graduate School of Policy Studies report gives the dismal numbers for people of colors’ presence on boards of directors.

“At corporations, 95 percent of board members are white, and 87 percent are men. At hospitals, boards of directors are 94 percent white, and 75 percent are men; in higher education, boards are 86 percent white, and 64 percent are men. Boards at cultural institutions are 79 percent white and 50 percent male.”

BTW, I sat in a meeting with Burke not long after he was hired; the guy talked for fifteen minutes and said absolutely nothing!—quite a skill.

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