In 2009 less than 12% of the Wake County's registered voters went to the polls to vote for local officials such as county commissioners and school board members. Such low turnouts are often associated with election years when we are not voting for national officeholders such as a president, governor, or congressmen. However, the people who voted knew that the majority would stay home and they took advantage of this opportunity to put their candidates in office.
Unfortunately, the two years between 2009 and 2011 were a very contentious and damaging period for our county's school system. Even though the school board should be non-partisan, it was made clear that the Republican majority intended to make sweeping changes to the school assignment plan and a number of educational programs. Such changes came quickly and Dr. Del Burns, who was superintendent of schools at this time, resigned shortly thereafter, arguing that the board was not looking out for the best interests of all students. In the meantime, the board's meetings were receiving national attention - some of which served to ridicule our county. Our county schools have not fully recovered from this difficult period and we should certainly not have to face such times again.
The ideological lines are relatively clearly drawn. Some school board candidates favor the $810 million bond referendum and others do not. Those who favor the bond argue that we need to look toward the future; those who do not favor the bond argue that we don't need more taxes and that we should wait until we are certain that 20,000 additional students will come to Wake County in the next four to five years.
First and most importantly, we need to exercise our privilege and right to vote. If only a small number of citizens vote it is likely to be those who favor one side of this argument over another. The only way we will know how Wake County's citizens feel about their future is if everyone's vote is counted. Second, this is a critical time in our county's history. Either we make it clear that education is important to our future or we sit on the sidelines and let time pass us by.
We need to build more schools to accommodate our growing population and we need to refurbish the schools that need repairs and upgrades. Our students deserve our attention on this critical vote and we owe them the best possible education that a few extra tax dollars will buy.