I’d like to think that I take my civic duty seriously. I recall last year, screaming at my husband, our live-in nanny, and her boyfriend, “Everyone in this house will vote! Everyone!”
Is this a touch aggressive? Perhaps.
Now that you’ve gotten to know me a bit, I am going to get vulnerable. Our elected officials at the Salt Lake City School Board are letting us down; but, we voted for them. The gripping responsibility I feel for what is happening right now is almost unmanageable.
I will admit that the school board was not on my radar quite like it should have been. No one could have anticipated the kinds of decisions that they would have to make this year. Had I known what I know now, perhaps I would have evaluated each of them a bit more harshly.
If 2020 has taught us anything, it is that we have a responsibility to each other. And so, when we witness what is an absolutely unacceptable display of leadership by the Salt Lake City School Board, it is our job to hold them accountable. After all, we chose them.
I sent an email to Board Member Katherine Kennedy this week, expressing my concern about her behavior at a recent School Board meeting. In a paragraph, I told her about my kids and applauded the exceptional work of the teachers and administrators at my daughters’ school. I explained how disheartening it was to watch the school board undermine all of their hard work. I asked her to “Step up or step down.”
Her response to me was six paragraphs, where she rattled off stats about her hours that she has put in, compared with the little pay she receives, along with throwing in that she has a Ph.D., as if this should somehow exonerate her.
Here is my problem: I empathize with her situation. As a full-time working parent who has chosen a job that is far more demanding than I would like, I get it. I've been in her position many times. That said, I am having a hard time giving her sympathy because all of us are making sacrifices and adjustments due to this unprecedented time.
So, when Kennedy insinuated that I do not give enough for my children’s education because she “has never met me,” despite the fact that I have not made any sort of commitments to her or to my kid’s school, recognizing my limitations in terms of time, I have to say, I am concerned.
Concerned that this is an elected official, and concerned that she perhaps has not become accustomed to being held accountable. This says to me that she is not used to parents reaching out to her in this matter. This says to me that in her six years serving on the school board, she is still not comfortable with accountability. That is a problem.
This means that as a parent in this community, I have not raised my voice enough. I am not loud enough. It means that each of us have not done our part to let our elected officials know that they represent us. May this be a lesson to each of us to say more. Our civic duty goes beyond simply filling in a bubble on a ballot.
The “collaboration with the community” part of the school board mission statement is only possible if we share our voices. I intend to share mine more often so that school board members, like Ms. Kennedy, become more accustomed to it.
Katie Krongard, Salt Lake City, is an art director for a local production company and parent of two girls, ages 6 and 8.