Have We Chosen Well?

With the 2010 election cycle now complete, we can only wonder if Capistrano Unified will continue to solidify its reputation as a district in constant turmoil or if we have come to the point where we can convert our proverbial swords into ploughshares. It will be a while before we truly know the answer to this question, but the election results and more importantly the actions taken immediately following may very well determine if Capistrano Unified will have hope for the future.

In this last election, voters had the ability to choose between two slates, “Children First” and the “Reform Committee,” each supporting five different candidates with control of the Board of Trustees ultimately hanging in the balance. By now we all know the results; neither side swept the election as most people had expected. Instead, the voters chose candidates not because they were associated with one particular slate, but because of their perceived individual qualifications and ability to perform.

Additionally, voters also wholeheartedly supported Measure H, which converts all future Capistrano Unified elections from the “at large” to “by area” methodology. This means that, for example, all future San Clemente-based candidates no longer need to campaign for votes in far-away Mission Viejo and Rancho Santa Margarita. This affords candidates the opportunity to get to be known in their own community and at the same time significantly lower the cost of running an effective campaign. More specifically, slates of candidates are less likely in future elections as voters will now have the greater ability to focus on the candidates as individuals.
The message could not be clearer; voters are not interested in dueling slates and the political bickering that it brings. Such activities may be appropriate in Washington or Sacramento, but they have no place in South Orange County, at least as it pertains to education. The only real question is whether both sides of these recent political battles hear the message. Once again, San Clemente serves as a barometer with all signs pointing to “Yes.”

In this hopeful spirit of reconciliation, soon after the election, my opponent Mike Winsten called to congratulate me on my victory. The tone of the conversation was professional, courteous and, above all else, sincere. Also, Mike graciously offered to be available to me for school district matters as I may need in the future. I am sure there will be some well-intentioned, very engaged and committed members of our proud district family that will take umbrage with his possible continued involvement in Capistrano Unified. However, we should all bear in mind that regardless of which side we fought on during our recent political battles, we all did so because we believed we were acting in the best interests of the school district and its students.

We should also remember the core mission and purpose of Capistrano Unified is to provide a quality education to the generations that will follow. As any teacher will readily admit, true learning is by no means confined to homework assignments and textbooks. How we conduct ourselves in providing an appropriate learning environment will have a far bigger impact on our youth than we may realize. After all, children who live with hostility will learn to fight, children who live with tolerance will learn to be patient and children who live with fairness will learn to be just.

Within Capistrano Unified, we can all work as a team to focus on providing a quality education for our children. If this is the ultimate district-wide outcome of our most recent election, then the voters will have chosen well indeed.

San Clemente resident John Alpay was elected to the Capistrano Unified School District Board of Trustees on November 2. He will be sworn in in December.

via San Clemente Times.