Letter – Politics and  school boards

Published 4:51 pm Tuesday, February 14, 2023

Editor, The Smithfield Times:

Despite what you may have heard during public comments at recent school board meetings, the Isle of Wight County School Board is part of the local, elected government — elected by the people who live in the respective districts who chose to participate in the 2022 local elections.

Unfortunately, there is an attempt to create a myth around school boards that “politics” should not be a part of school board decisions. There is no such thing as an elected government without politics; anyone who tries to tell you otherwise is only seeking to hide their political agenda within the debate.  

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The School Board is supposed to be different from what it had become over the past few years: a rubber stamp for whatever the superintendent wanted. The voters roundly rejected this philosophy and management style of Denise Tynes’ handpicked school board in 2022.  Changing this rebuffed philosophy has been somewhat chaotic. 

Still, the elected majority is adjusting to incorporate concerns without abandoning their clear mandate. I believe that the mandate from the voters is to be more involved in ensuring our schools’ local curriculum and administration are decidedly different from the high-profile examples of sexual and political excess seen in other school systems such as Loudoun County.

Additionally, local Virginia Education Association and NAACP leaders claim politics should not be part of these debates. The VEA and NAACP are nonpartisan in the same legal sense local elections are nonpartisan. However, these organizations are very much partisan players within local politics. That doesn’t make the individuals or their respective organizations depraved.  However, it does mean their demands to “remove politics from schools” really means “only remove politics we disagree with.” 

Current school board members pushing for change are no more arms of the Republican Party than the VEA and NAACP are arms of the Democratic Party. To pretend that one side is less political than the other is disingenuous. I don’t blame them for employing slick tactics, just as they shouldn’t blame me for calling it out; after all, that’s politics.


Lewis Edmonds