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Off-Year Voting for School Board

December 06, 1987

Re Jim Beirne's Commentary column "Voters Elect Teachers on Trust" (Nov. 29):

Beirne, who is president of the District Education Assn., admirably defended the position of the teachers union and the California Teachers Assn., the state teachers union. Both groups are factions of the AFL-CIO, and although disguised as pro-student, educational associations, they are labor unions, pure and simple.

Beirne's position as president of a union has one major goal: to advance and defend the labor contract. In the fall of 1986, the Huntington Beach Union High School District discussed the possible movement of the school board election to an even-year general election. (A majority of school districts in Orange County have made this move.) The only speaker against the move was Cathy Iverson, who said the importance of schools and the trustee positions would be lost in the multitude of ballot items in general elections and the teachers association's position was not to move the election.

Last month, only 13,000 out of 147,000 eligible voters turned out to vote for two district school board trustees. The cost of the election for the district was estimated by the registrar's office at 50 cents per eligible voter or $73,000. With a turnout of only 9%, I suggest the voters are not served by an off-year election.

Only the union machine is effective and served by such elections. Beirne suggests that non-teacher union candidates are being turned out of office because they don't care about kids and education. I suggest no one would run for school board trustee and all the emotional pressures without a deep commitment to the real issue--our children's education.

The Huntington Beach school district has five union-endorsed trustees (100%) as of last month's election. Now all that is needed is a liberal Democratic governor to give greater funding to public education, and your children will be properly educated. If you believe that, you are naive.

THOMAS F. STEELE

Huntington Beach

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