Dirty tricks and politics on the School Board

A source at the district told me about the intrigue surrounding the recent elections for chair and vice chair of the school board both of which were nearly unprecedented.

It seems someone engaged in a smear campaign against board member Hershey sending letters to other board members leading up to the election. Where I haven’t seen the letters first hand I am told they mentioned a business lean against the Hershey’s in 2007 and some vague assertions that Mrs. Hershey was profiting from her position on the board and relationship with Superintendent Willis.

This smacks of the campaign literature allies of Darryl Willie used when he ran against board member Wright in 2012. Then, one of his campaign flyers alleged she to was profiting from her position on the board and referred to her exorbitant board travel expenses which turned out to be one seventh of the amount the board spent on travel, though I guess just about anything can sound ominous when phrased in a certain way. 

Who were Willie’s supporters in 2014? Why Gary Chartrand and his friends of course this is the same Chartrand who has already donated to Scott Shine who has to be disappointed in the recent board leadership elections.

He can’t be happy that a first year board member was elevated to vice chair, a position he sought last year and obviously coveted.

As somebody who has faced his threats and attempts at intimidation first hand and who has witnessed his supporters underhanded tactics a smear campaign against board member Hershey who in my opinion has been both a fierce advocate for public education and a very able and competent board member doesn’t sound completely out of the picture.

Whether Shine or his supporters had anything to do with it, all I have is suspicions, is actually irrelevant because there is a much bigger problem with Jacksonville’s education landscape and it is that people like Shine, Chartrand and the folks at the Jacksonville Public Education Fund, also financed by Chartrand present them as serious players but the truth is they are not. 

JPEF and Shine are often ignorant about what our schools need as they push Chatrand’s privatization agenda. They aren’t serious about fixing the problems in our schools but are instead worried about carving out their little niches as they chip around the edges of public education in the hopes that it will one day crumble.

Any person or group trying to smear Lori Hershey in the eyes of the community or board members was bound to fail as her passion and love for public education and her fierce advocacy, excuse my choice of wording, shine through. The board obviously saw these attempts for what they were and elected her anyway but its just shameful that somebody thought to try.

Sadly this isn’t the last time I think we will hear about dirty tricks like above and it’s because those who seek to tear public education down don’t have any good ideas so they rely on what they think will work and that’s tearing down good people.

Our schools deserve serious leaders like Willis, Wright and Hershey, not self serving ones like Chartrand, Shine and JPEF.

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