It has long been this newspapers policy to recommend the re-election of incumbent candidates when they have lived up to their promises. Based on this philosophy, we recommend the re-election of Mildred Blackburn as the District 4 trustee on the Columbia County Board of Education.
The recommendation isnt without reservations. Blackburn, while a capable trustee, has rarely been a guiding light on the board. She has been a reliable vote for the school systems administration - even when her own long experience on the front lines of public education could have given her the ability to provide stronger leadership.
Blackburns opponent, who faced her four years ago, is a studious, competent candidate. Andy Ezell would certainly make a fine trustee. It also counts in his favor that he believes the countys voters should have the opportunity to elect the school boards chairman - an issue Blackburn and other current trustees oppose.
Still, Blackburn has served her constituents well. A retired history teacher, she understands perhaps better than any other trustee the impact of their decisions on the classroom. Her insights are highly valued by other board members.
And its no criticism to say Blackburn reliably supports the administration. The vast majority of its decisions are good ones for Columbia Countys school system.
What the school system lacks is the creative tension between visionary spendthrifts and miserly mossbacks. With a board and administration composed only of the latter, Columbia Countys classrooms are funded far below the state average - even when clearly identified needs go begging.
Trustees should encourage more aggressive school investment, and we believe citizens would give their enthusiastic support.
In her second term, Blackburn should use her classroom background to encourage continued high pay for teachers, more scheduling flexibility and more creativity in funding. We believe she still has work to do, and deserves a second term in which to do it.
The Columbia County News-Times ©2013. All Rights Reserved.