To the Editor:

(Re. “Stance on WASB lobbying is in conflict with board duties,” Oct. 3) What makes Mr. Armstrong the expert to determine Mr. Zimmerman and my understanding of our duties as school board members? He has never discussed school issues with me so he has no understanding of this particular issue, only my publicly stated positions. ...

Starting with an insulting, inflammatory statement such as Mr. Armstrong’s, does nothing to further the debate, nor create a friendly dialogue to exchange ideas. ...

I’ll try to abbreviate my “understanding of my duties as a school board member.” My priorities as a board member: First, students! I have three in Ripon schools. Second, students’ parents, the most important tool toward educating our children. Third, taxpayers, who pay the bills. Fourth, teachers, just a hair’s breadth less important than parents in my estimation. Fifth, everything else!

This WASB [Wisconsin Association of School Boards] discussion falls into the fifth category. Mr. Armstrong references thin budgets; every dollar that goes toward something like board members’ WASB membership is a dollar taken away from my four higher priorities, and therefore must be examined. ... I’ve long advocated for eliminating small budgetary items like this one so that more of our limited resources can go toward the top of my priority list: students!

Vouchers? History shows that competition breeds innovation and growth! For the past hundred or so years, the United States has regulated and disbanded monopolies. Why? Because they are bad for consumers! Why then do we continue to accept the notion of the biggest monopoly in this country, government schools? I support vouchers if all things are equal. If the widespread practice of vouchers becomes a reality, my children will be in the Ripon Area School District! I believe in this district, and can think of no greater advocation of something than the belief that what is in the best interest of my children is their continued education in the RASD! ...

I don’t understand your Act 10 statement? What is the “issue we frame within the interests of advancing and improving public education”? Your statement indicates that there is some “accepted” notion that the law does not do what you’ve stated! ...

To your final statement about my “political beliefs,” what are those? Again, we’ve had no discussion for you to even begin to identify my political beliefs! ... if I don’t think like you, I’m not fulfilling my duties as a board member. Is that how that works? I’ve constantly stated the beauty of the school board is a diverse group of individuals with varied backgrounds and life experiences making informed decisions based upon what’s in the best interest of our students, our community.

... the next time you have a disagreement, opinion or information you’d like me to consider as I deliberate school issues, contact me personally! ...

And please, as my friend, the next time you write a letter critical of me, give me the courtesy of talking to me first! It will at least be an accurately informed letter, one where I have at a minimum, had an opportunity to explain my position.

— David Olson

Ripon Area School District School Board Member

412 Hope Ave.

To read the entire letter, see the Oct. 10, 2013 edition of The Ripon Commonwealth Press.

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