“Think globally, act locally.”

Scottish town planner and social activist Patrick Geddes is credited with this idealized statement urging the public to take actions in their own community that will positively affect the planet.

In terms of Missouri’s April 6 municipal elections, acting locally is voting for members of the School Board and City Council. This is local control of our political and educational institutions.

You may know the candidates for City Council and School Board. Our kids went to school with theirs. We meet in the grocery stores and at meetings. They are our neighbors who will not be moving to Washington.

I live in Columbia’s Fourth Ward, so I will not be voting for a new council member. I will, however, be casting my votes for two new School Board members.

The candidates have had ongoing discussions and debates concerning local and global questions. Issues such as climate change, COVID-19 protection or protections for special needs students are on the minds of Columbia voters and likely will be central in the decision to take up a ballot.

I am an ardent supporter of public school education. I am an ardent opponent of state-ordered voucher systems, taking money away from our public institutions to support private and mostly parochial schools.

We remember those teachers who have had great influence on our own lives from the public school system. My three were Mrs. Gouse, who recognized that I had a reading disability (though dyslexia was not yet in our vocabulary); Mr. Skupinzki, who taught American history and civics in the fifth grade; and my speech and theater teacher, Mr. Crucilla, who taught me how to voice my opinions.

We do not usually remember the members of the School Board who administered the public school. I do because while I was in high school, my mother was the campaign manager for School Board member Mr. O’Donald.

My mother organized a debate in the basement of our home with three candidates for the School Board in 1967. Of course, Mr. O’Donald was invited. One of the candidates was a member of the John Birch Society, whose platform included the “corruption” of our students because of “that rock ‘n‘ roll music.” The other was a vocal supporter of Richard Nixon and property tax reductions that our schools could not afford.

I made it a point to be playing Arlo Guthrie’s “Alice’s Restaurant Massacree” on my record player when the meeting was over and the candidates and guests were leaving. My mom admonished me for the act but praised me for my political stance.

I considered this a show of defiance rather than campaigning against a candidate.

On April 6, there will be five candidates for the two open seats on the Columbia School Board: Lucas Neal, Aron Saylor, Katherine Sasser, Jeanne Snodgrass and incumbent Teresa Maledy.

Like many of you, I was not able to attend most of the debates this year, though they were done virtually. However, I do read the Missourian and have visited websites or Facebook pages when available to get a feel for the candidates and their positions on local and global issues. I also listen to the arguments made by my fellow political enthusiasts.

I have various problems with four of the five candidates, but we must choose two to fill the Board.

After consideration, I will be casting my votes for Sasser and Snodgrass. Sasser told the Missourian that she is an “advocate and avid supporter of education as a human right.” That is a strong point of view and one that aligns with my personal position about public education.

Snodgrass said that “one of her main priorities would be ensuring the health and safety of students and staff, both mentally and physically, in the face of COVID-19 and dealing with any issues caused by the pandemic.” Again, this is one of my strong positions on why the school system was wrong for closing, opening, closing and opening in-class learning when COVID-19 numbers had not hit the threshold established by the board.

It is our civic duty to vote.

Our School Board will determine what is happening with our property taxes and how our children are to be educated. They are local politicians who are thinking globally.

Please remember to vote April 6.

David Rosman is an award-winning editor, writer and professional speaker. You can read more of David’s commentaries at columbiamissourian.com and InkandVoice.com.


About opinions in the Missourian: The Missourian’s Opinion section is a public forum for the discussion of ideas. The views presented in this piece are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Missourian or the University of Missouri. If you would like to contribute to the Opinion page with a response or an original topic of your own, visit our submission form.

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