Buel, Smith for school board

In the search for a replacement for departing director Dan Ryan, the school board need look no further than Steve Buel and Nancy Smith. I asked both if they would be willing to serve.

“I accept,” was Buel’s response. Smith was a little more circumspect, but would serve if called.

Buel finished a strong second to Ryan in the last election for this seat. His experience as an activist policy maker on the PPS school board is much needed on a body that seems paralyzed to do anything about obvious, glaring inequity.

He has demonstrated a keen understanding of the issues of poverty in education, and the various troubles with PPS policy, from middle school discipline to the student and teacher transfer policies.

In the 2005 race of five candidates, Buel won 27.94% of the vote to Ryan’s 50.65%. Not bad, considering Ryan outspent Buel five-to-one. Buel beat third-place finisher Charles McGee by a three-to-one ratio.

Of course, Buel has a tell-it-like-it-is style that rubs some “important” people the wrong way. It’s hard to imagine the existing board welcoming him into their fold, but I’d be happy to be proven wrong.

If the board won’t appoint the runner-up for the seat, Buel says he’ll be running again in the spring.

I’m not sure how much serious thought Smith has given to a 2005 run, but she seems to be edging in that direction.

Smith is currently president of the Jefferson PTSA and a high school business teacher in the Beaverton School District. Like Ryan, she is a graduate of Roosevelt High. She has real skin in the game, with children past and present in the Jefferson cluster. She is a founding member of the Neighborhood Schools Alliance and a veteran school equity activist.

Smith would bring unparalleled passion and energy to the board. If her passion sometimes boils over, it is because of her deep belief that we have a moral obligation to provide all of our children with equal opportunity.

Both Steve Buel and Nancy Smith are eligible, and both have the experience, dedication and and conviction to do the job. Most importantly, both share a fundamental, unshakable commitment to equal opportunity in education.

If the school board is as serious about equity as Carole Smith claims to be, they would be foolish to appoint anybody but one of these two. Either would bring a much-needed equity focus to the board, and help them achieve Smith’s stated, “overarching” goal of equity.

Steve Rawley published PPS Equity from 2008 to 2010, when he moved his family out of the district.