The Davenport Community School Board elections are over, and there is good news and bad. The good news is that Grant School parent Alan Guard was the top vote-getter throughout the majority of the city, representing the community's desire for real change in the district. The bad news is that out of 109,791 registered voters; only 5,411 cast a ballot - a voter turnout of 4.93 percent. Furthermore, a minority of three precincts carried the vote for Dan Portes and Anne Losasso, representing a disturbing trend in Davenport's voting body.

One of the important distinctions between Alan Guard and the two other winners is their positions on the value of small neighborhood schools versus larger schools as a methodology for education. The current school-district administration is implementing a plan that will eventually close all the older, inner-city schools in Davenport. Two large schools are planned to replace them. And even though numerous studies point to the folly of this strategy, the administration chooses to ignore the facts in favor of real-estate development. Both Dan Portes and Anne Losasso have heartily endorsed the current administration's policies.

In reviewing the voter statistics for the September 10 school-board election, it is clear that only three precincts made the difference for Portes and Losasso. Precincts 61, 62, and 63, which represent a large part of eastern Davenport, were responsible for double, even triple, numbers of voters turning out for the two candidates. Arguably, 30 percent of the voters are controlling 100 percent of the elections. This area of Davenport votes in a bloc that has as its common denominator real-estate development. This is true for city-council elections, evidenced by voter turnout in the Sixth Ward favoring real-estate appraiser Bob McGivern. The rest of Davenport needs to understand this dynamic and engage in the voting process to circumvent it. Special interests, such as real-estate development, should not dictate who gets elected in Davenport. But as long as voters continue to ignore the polls, this is precisely what we will have. In fact, political consultants and campaign managers count on voters staying home. Campaigns almost always focus only on voters who traditionally cast a ballot in every election. This information is easily obtainable at the county auditor's office. By not voting, citizens are containing costs for candidates because they only have to influence a very small percentage of the voting population.

Finally, on August 31, Portes sent a mean-spirited letter to a targeted group of voters, claiming that Guard, Paul Holcomb, and Phillip Hofinga intended to "disrupt the current administration reminiscent of the activities in the '80s that made our school system the laughingstock of the state." Just once, it would be nice if Portes bothered to back up one of these broad-brushed statements he is so fond of throwing around with the facts so that debate could occur. My recollection of the '80s as it pertains to the school district is one of great courage and heroism by school-board members such as Carolyn Gabrilson, who questioned the administration's budget policies during a very difficult financial time and who vigorously fought to prevent the implementation of Outcome Based Education in Davenport, a thoroughly inappropriate curriculum that concerned itself with behavior modification rather than reading, writing, and arithmetic. So if the "circus atmosphere" that Portes refers to in his letter means that electing such a board would ensure questioning and holding accountable the administration, opening up the administrative process for more community participation, and securing a budget that reflects our children's education as the true top priority, then we can only pray that he was absolutely right!

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