Saturday, June 15, 2013

Listen Up, RISD

June 15, 2013, Joint Run-off Election
Richardson ISD Place 4 Board of Trustees:
Lanet Greenhaw - 76% (3,463)
Rachel Chumney - 24% (1,100)

You just had a close escape, RISD. Now, listen up. After the jump.

Apparently, a bunch of parents think you, the RISD board of trustees, administrators and teachers, have dropped the ball on educating children with learning disabilities. They were upset enough to want to dump an experienced, knowledgeable, competent trustee like Lanet Greenhaw and replace her with someone with no district-wide experience and only basic knowledge of anything in the RISD other than that one issue, the education of children with learning disabilities.

Forget about the landslide run-off results and remember the plurality Rachel Chumney achieved in the general election, just shy of the 50% plus one vote needed to avoid a run-off. It never should have been that close. If there's something to take away from this election, it's the issue that motivated Chumney and why she almost pulled it off.

So, listen up, RISD. Get on the ball. Listen to Rachel Chumney and the other parents who have complaints. They are good people. If they have antagonized you during this election, it's because they really, really care about their children, just like you do. Don't let hard feelings, if any were created by things that were said, persist beyond election day. Draw the Chumney supporters into focus groups and committees that shape the programs RISD offers. If tough trade-offs are inevitable (and they always are), find more ways, better ways, to involve the parents in making those trade-offs. Improve communication with all parents, including those who may not be happy but never think of complaining publicly. Don't ever again drop the ball so badly on any single issue that a candidate running *against* the RISD can come so close to victory.

Congratulations to Lanet Greenhaw. Your past service to the RISD is appreciated. Your continued service is desired and needed. I know you worked hard to get the word out in the run-off election. It paid off. Now, rest up. But not too long. You've a big job ahead of you... as always. I'm confident you'll continue to do an outstanding job.

Confidential to Rachel Chumney: When I first blogged about this race, way back in early March, I said "these candidates [Bonnie Abadee and Rachel Chumney] have to be considered extreme long shots. The election campaign might have a surprise in store, but I'm not popping any corn." You challenged me on that prediction.

You were right. I was wrong. Your candidacy did provide a surprise. It provided food for thought. It highlighted a serious issue in the RISD. Your candidacy provided a boost to efforts to improve RISD's performance in this area. I owe you a bag of popcorn.


Unknown said...


I appreciate this post. I do, however, want to challenge one statement. I did not run “against” RISD. I have stated many times (and perhaps it got lost in translation) that I am FOR RISD. I am FOR public education. I want to be a part of the team. The decision to run in this particular race required me running “against” a Trustee.

My passion (shared by many within our community) for improving certain areas of our school system did not translate into a seat on the Board at this time. This has been a strenuous election for us all. As difficult as it may be, conflict can serve a great purpose. I am hopeful this conflict, or debate, if you will … will increase awareness and action on many fronts.

You have written much about my “lack of experience.” While many tiptoe into a cold pool, gradually acclimating to its temperature…I’ve always been the type to jump right in. (Trust me, I wouldn't jump in if I didn't think I could swim). This is at the core of who I am and have always been. This trait allows me to gain experience, understanding (and mastery) at a pretty quick rate! I’ve learned more than you can imagine in the past 4 months and am pretty confident we did a fantastic job raising awareness of issues in these 4 months (that might otherwise have taken years.) This is a win!

I will keep learning, and I am committing myself to serve the RISD community in whatever capacity I can. I look forward to collaborating with RISD and hope my voice (which I will use on behalf of others) will be heard and valued. A couple Trustees have already reached out to me. I am grateful for this and hope we can continue the conversation and take action steps to make some improvements.

In lieu of popcorn…let’s make this a “virtual” handshake.

--Rachel Chumney

Mark Steger said...

Rachel Chumney, thanks for your feedback. More importantly, thanks for your commitment to serve the RISD community in whatever capacity you can. Service by passionate citizens like yourself is what's needed to keep the RISD a great place to educate future generations.

Chris Simonds said...


Thank you!

This election was never about being against Mrs. Greenhaw. She is a marvelous community leader and will continue to be a strong presence on the board working to help our children. Her dedication, hard work and commitment have been and will remain one of the things that makes RISD great.

This election was also never about being against RISD. The teachers and staff have also been wanting better tools, methods and materials to do their jobs. They also love our kids and want the best for them.

This election was really about being FOR the raising of awareness of a key area where RISD was not performing as well as its neighboring districts. By addressing this issue with additional staff, training and funding, this will have a ripple effect that will benefit all of RISD. Changes are now on the budget that will hopefully start having an impact very soon.

Mrs. Chumney stepped up to fill a void and give voice to issues that parent groups were passionate about. Her plurality win of the initial election was clear proof of a need for change.

Mark, you are right in that it did provide much food for thought. But as opposed to popcorn, I think it was a very hardy and nutritious meal.


--Chris Simonds