Reflections from TE School Board Director Richard Brake

Locally elected school boards are the only entity that has the mission of keeping public schools public. They have a vested interest in retaining public control of schools and ensuring quality education since their actions directly impact local community life.

Richard Brake, a Republican, was defeated on Election Day in his attempt at a second term on the TE School Board; losing to Democrat Scott Dorsey.  Monday, November 25 marks the final school board meeting for Brake, Betsy Fadem and Anne Crowley.   On Monday, December 2, the torch is officially handed to those newly elected  to serve the school district,  including Dorsey, Doug Carlson and Virginia Lastner.

The defeat in a local election is not what defines you.  I hope that Dr. Brake and other school board (and township supervisor) candidates defeated in the recent election  will take the words of Andre Malraux to heart and remain involved in the community – it’s important.

 “Often the difference between a successful person and a failure is not one has better abilities or ideas, but the courage that one has to bet on one’s ideas, to take a calculated risk – and to act.”

The following is an editorial written by Rich Brake which appears in the print version of Main Line Suburban this week.

Why I Lost, and the Future of Tredyffrin Politics
By Richard A. Brake, Berwyn, PA

You win some, you lose some.  That’s what I told my family and friends after I lost my re-election bid for T/E School Board.  As a lifelong Cubs fan and former competitive long-distance runner, I have experienced defeat much more than victory, and so I know that you always learn more from your losses than your wins.  I also believe in Providence, and that it is likely that as this door closes, others will certainly open and new opportunities for service will present themselves.  I very much enjoyed my time on the Board, and hope that I performed some small public service for the benefit of our community.  The bottom line is that the sun rose the day after I lost, and since politics at all levels remains a peripheral part of our lives (which is a good thing I think, though not without its downsides), it would be wise to keep this small little episode in its proper perspective.

With that said, I am reminded of a saying one of my graduate school professors was fond of repeating – “If you’re not interested in politics that’s too bad, because politics is always interested in you.”  So I do think that there are important lessons to learn from this campaign season.  It is also the case that it is hard to have your entire life’s work, and the principles that this work represents, pilloried, caricatured, demonized, and ridiculed in front of the entire township.  It is natural, then, to try to make sense of a difficult experience like this – was it something I said; was it something I did?  Are my principles that reprehensible?  Did I allow them to blind me to the real issues we faced on the school board?

When I look into the mirror, I don’t see a monster or a label, but a flawed but nevertheless dedicated father, husband, educator, veteran, and public servant – but I know that we all come-off very differently to others than we do to ourselves, and maybe some of the problem was not what I said but how I said it.  Regardless, it was clear on election day that there were a lot of people that didn’t like me, or what I supposedly stood for, and that is a bitter pill to swallow, especially when you have to explain this to your kids (by the way, I don’t want to teach creationism in the schools, and have no idea where that outright lie came from!).  Obviously I could have done a much better job communicating to the voters who I am and what I really stand for, but it is also the case that the other side bears a great deal of responsibility in creating a false and misleading picture of me.  Politics ain’t beanbag, to be sure, but I brought a water pistol to a bazooka fight, and that kind of negative, name-calling brand of politics unfortunately won on November 5th.

As a result, I’d like to spend the rest of this piece examining the case my opponents built against me; whether that kind of campaign, though successful in the short-term, really serves the best interests of our community; and whether someone like me, with the principles I believe in, should be or will ever be allowed, to serve the public trust here in Tredyffrin again.  Along the way I hope to suggest a more optimistic, collegial, and effective brand of local politics than the slash and burn variety that we have witnessed these last two election cycles.

So why did I lose?  Four years ago I won by 400 votes, 55%-45%.  This year I lost by over 200 votes, even though I garnered more votes this year than four years ago.  So what happened?  From a sheer numbers perspective, the Democrats turned out their base more than the Republicans did, and in a local race like this, turnout is everything.  How did they do it?  Simple.  They labeled me Tea Party to their supporters – and successfully tarred me with the residue of the recent partial government shutdown, the responsibility of which – rightly or wrongly – has been placed by many at the feet of so-called tea party republicans in DC.  In other words, instead of focusing their campaign on local issues, the democrats nationalized a local election (sometimes Tip O’Neill is wrong; politics is not always local), and the white-hot antipathy local democrats have for the tea party convinced many more of them than usual to come out and cast their ballots not only against me, but other republicans as well.

Now there is a lot to say about these tactics.  First, I think that the partial government shutdown was a collective failure to compromise on the part of the entire elective branches in Washington, and not just some vocal faction that controls only one house out of three.  And with the recent problems with the disastrous roll-out of Obamacare, we will just have to see how this DC morality tale plays out in the weeks and months ahead.  I also think that by and large, local campaigns should be about local issues and not distant fights in far-away capitols (I will have more to say about those local school issues in a moment).  I have no problem with a vigorous and aggressive exchange of views that draw sharp distinctions between candidates.  That is the heart of elections – a debate about competing ideas – and as long as those fights are fought on the merits, I am happy to accept the verdict of my community if they feel my ideas won’t work to solve the pressing issues of the day.  But that is not what happened here!

What did happen was a classic case of guilt by association.  What heinous thing was I guilty of being?  Why, a conservative of course, and working in the conservative movement and with local tea party groups on their constitutional education classes.  So let’s deal with the charge of being a conservative.

I am a constitutional scholar who has a great reverence for the founding principles of our country, and have spent most of my life teaching the story of our country and its animating leaders and ideas to high schoolers, college students, and ordinary citizens who have expressed an interest in learning more.  That’s what I do at the Intercollegiate Studies Institute today, and I am proud of our work in teaching American first principles – constitutional government, free enterprise, individual liberty, personal responsibility, the rule of law, and traditional moral values.  Since when have those principles become dangerous and subversive?

So again, I guess I am guilty of being a conservative, and I happen to be a conservative of the Edmund Burke, G.K. Chesterton, Russell Kirk, Robert Nisbet, and Ronald Reagan variety (just to name a few, along with founding fathers like John Adams, James Madison, John Dickinson, and Richard Henry Lee).  If you don’t know who these guys are, look them up and tell me if you disagree with them.  As a “traditionalist” conservative (www.imaginativeconservative.org), I have great sympathies for localism and grave misgivings about corporate “crony” capitalism.  I believe that liberty must always be tempered by the requirements of order and the mercies of justice, which means that we have both rights and duties in a free and virtuous society.  I believe in community and what some now refer to as “crunchy” conservatism, whose tenets are best expressed on this great blog www.frontprochrepublic.com.  I could go on, but I was under the impression that I was running for my local school board on November 5th, which is why I spent all of my campaign talking about my record on the issues, and not about far-away political battles and my particular brand of conservatism.

But my opponents had other thoughts in mind.  For them, conservatism is not a legitimate rival public philosophy that has a distinguished history and respectable intellectual pedigree.  My guess is that the local democrats are completely ignorant of the great thinkers of the modern conservative movement (I can assure you that I know and respect, though disagree with, their great thinkers, like Woodrow Wilson, Herbert Croly, John Dewey, and FDR), and instead rely on caricatures of conservatism from the mass media and their own think tanks and interest groups.  No, conservatism has become a dirty word, boiled down to the epitaph “Tea Bagger” – and like the term “communism” in the 1950’s, this neo-McCarthyite name-calling seems to have worked among a large swath of the electorate, not only here in Tredyffrin but across the country.  I honestly expected more from such a highly-schooled community, but clearly there is an emotional reaction this term engenders and it does the electoral trick (and as a conservative, I too had problems with some of the tactics employed by our politicians in Washington).

I think the main reason why the democrat’s tea party strategy worked is that they equated all conservatives and republicans with the tea party, and then they equated the tea party with one simple word – MEAN.  And there are a lot of Tredyffrin residents who view conservatives exactly in this way.  We are MEAN because at all levels of government we are skeptical of large government programs, and the growing tax burden they require, actually working to solve the very real problems of poverty, hunger, joblessness, and access to quality health care, housing, and education.  But what most people hear, and what conservatives do a horrible job of addressing, is that we are simply against THE PEOPLE who are poor, hungry, jobless, homeless, and lack other basic necessities.  And if that was really true, then conservatives would be MEAN, and should not be trusted in public office.  Since enough people believed that caricature on November 5th, conservatives like me were shown the door.

The only problem with all of this, besides the glaring rhetorical problem conservatives have, is that in my case, I really am not mean.  As a devout and practicing Catholic, I do try to practice my faith through good works for the poor, and a helping hand around the neighborhood.  I think those that know me, even those on the other side of the political aisle, know this to be true.  I really do believe in the parable of the rich man, the camel, and the eye of a needle, and hence know that we can’t serve both God and Mammon, which is why we must be truly charitable with our time, talent and treasure.

I guess what it comes down to is that I don’t believe that the only or primary way to be charitable is through large bureaucratic government programs that spend most of their resources not on their poor clientele but on salaries and benefits of an ever expanding government work force (I would be for a complete de-regulation and consolidation of welfare assistance, cutting out the government middle-men, and increasing cash payments to the truly poor for a fixed period of time).  And with our ever-growing unpaid debts we are incurring – whether it be in Harrisburg with our pensions or in DC with all of our entitlement programs (and now a new one in Obamacare) – the worry I have is that these unsustainable programs will continue to crowd-out private economic activity that produce the jobs that we all need to pay our mortgages, feed our families, and send our kids to school.  The best welfare program still remains a good job!

And so to turn the argument on its head, I actually thinks it’s MEANER to continue to rack-up mountains of debt and debase our currency in Washington; not to address our unsustainable pension obligations in Harrisburg; and not to put a brake on higher and higher property taxes here in Tredyffrin – because this failure to act will end up hurting our kids who will be saddled with debt, hyperinflation, bleak job prospects, and lower standards of living; will damage our educational program as more funds are diverted from the classroom to retirees; and will force more seniors on fixed incomes out of their homes.  In the end, then, it is MEAN to believe in utopian good intentions and hopelessly complex social engineering schemes that not only fail to ameliorate the true suffering that exists in our fallen world, but will also make it that much harder for those who are trying to play by the rules and be self-sufficient to have the spiritual and material resources they need to take care of themselves and not be overly-reliant on government.

As for the actual school board issues that I thought would be the focus of this campaign, I’m not sure that the outcome on the 5th will help us come to terms with the very real problems we all face as a school community.  My opponent Mr. Dorsey criticized me for voting against recent school district budgets, and then his party put up signs saying to stop the cuts to our schools and vote democrat.  Hmmn?  I know that democrats Kevin Buraks and Karen Cruickshank voted for every district budget these last four years, and I voted for one.  Who then voted for the cuts?  I was for the cuts if they were also coupled with a more prudent use of our over $30 million reserve fund to cushion the blow to taxpayers during a recession.  Since that did not happen the last three years, and we raised taxes higher than we should have and still produced surpluses – I voted against those budgets.  Someone needs to tell me which side acted rashly and radically?

Now that I’m off the Board, I can also make clear that when we were negotiating our last teacher contract, which was indeed better than the last one (but that wasn’t hard – average salaries rose 8% per year under that one with virtually no teacher contribution to health care), we were told by our chief negotiator Jeff Sultanik that our $30 million fund balance was a major liability in our bargaining position with the teachers.  That is why the leadership of the Board moved $10 million out of the fund balance into the capital fund where it could not be touched.  Now, we do have anticipated capital projects that need to be paid for, but the more traditional approach would be to issue a bond and have more than one generation help pay for the capital expenditure.  I would have also developed a more transparent plan to draw down some of these reserve funds in a coherent fashion to help cover our growing pension obligations.  Instead, the board leadership decided to use part of the fund balance to give our teachers another bonus to help buy labor peace, and not to give our hard-hit taxpayers a break.

I now hear rumblings that the teachers are indicating that they have given all they can give, and that they will not accept further salary and benefit concessions, so my guess is that they will be looking at that reserve fund as ripe for the picking.  What will Mr. Dorsey and his allies do then – another pay-off bonus?  My guess is that they will also argue that we need more revenue, and with the Act 1 caps in place, they will say that they are forced by circumstances out of their control to adopt an earned income tax for approval by the voters.  My position, not surprisingly, would be different.  To be clear, I would NOT call for a cut in teacher salaries (just FYI, the average teacher makes over $85,000/year plus pension and benefits for 10 months work), but instead would reduce the rate of growth in teacher salaries by completely revamping the salary matrix, instituting pilot merit pay programs, and asking teachers to pay private-sector levels for their health care.  Now that I am off the board, there will be nobody making those kinds of arguments, and your taxes will continue to go up without any commensurate increase in enrollment or academic achievement.

Of course these positions I suggest are not easy to take – some would call them MEAN – but I don’t think realism is mean.  It’s actually what is called for when adults confront tough issues, instead of relying primarily on emotional appeals.  I do think that conservatives need to do a better job of appealing to both the heads and hearts of our community, but that does not mean we shouldn’t make the necessary changes to our system because it might offend those that stand to gain the most from maintaining the status quo.  This is what Edmund Burke, the father of modern conservatism, meant when he reminded us that “a state without the means of some change is without the means of its conservation.”  In an ironic twist, it’s conservatives like me who are calling for prudent reforms to the status quo financing of public education in order to save the system, while it is forces on the left – the public sector unions and their democrat allies – who are conservatively maintaining an unsustainable system.  I’m for change, and my opponents are for the status quo – who is for hope and change now?

Finally, a few words about the disturbing tone and declining civility of our local politics.  Two years ago I was the only school board member in Tredyffrin who spoke out publicly against some of the tactics employed during that election cycle.  The issue was the EIT, and while I am strongly opposed to such a measure, I did think we needed to study it, and probably have a public referendum on it to finally put the issue to rest.  There were misleading mailings sent out on this issue, and I took a lot of heat from my side of the aisle by speaking out against them in a public meeting.  I also had written a letter to the editor prior to the election making my opposition clear, but the Suburban refused to run it given its timing (I have the letter and emails to prove it).

That was not an easy thing for me to do, so I was very disappointed that my opponent Mr. Dorsey forgot what I did and proceeded to launch a negative campaign, not against my school board record, but my closely-held beliefs and educational career.  I can tell you that it hurt to have so many people on election-day cast disparaging looks my way, as if I was a leper or worse, because I believe in and work for the Constitution, free enterprise, and traditional values.  I guess Mr. Dorsey also forgot how we collaborated together on the bipartisan survey and forum I did with Sean Moir to help increase public input into school affairs.  I know Mr. Dorsey is a preacher and believes in Christian values like turning the other cheek, which I certainly plan on doing once I pull the knife out of my back.  Eh Tu, Scott?

In the end, we need a better brand of politics that treats rival beliefs not as heresies but as differences between means, not ends.  We all want the same things for our community, we just disagree on the size and scope of the government that is required to help us get to where we all want to be.  I for one would love, as a start, to completely shift the ratio of taxes we pay, so that most goes to our local governments, then the state, and the rest to Washington.  If that happened, not only would there be greater accountability, I think you would be surprised by the new political alliances that would emerge, because I know my brand of communitarian conservatism has a lot in common with such left-of-center causes as historic preservation, open space, local agriculture, the new urbanism, and anti-box store campaigns.

Now don’t get me wrong. I also think Americans as a whole pay far more in taxes than we should (right now, the average American pays 45% of their income in locals, state, and federal taxes, and I think the maximum should be around 30%).  I believe that because I would rather allow Americans to keep more of what they earn so they can practice private charity rather than compulsory government assistance, and to take care of their own problems rather than relying too heavily on government welfare.  Of course, you are free to disagree with me on this, but that doesn’t make me mean-spirited (and to think so might make you narrow-minded and overly-ideological).

What I am hoping for is an entirely new political paradigm that rejects the old bromides of the right and the left, and the cynical politics of personal destruction, and instead looks hard at the pressing issues of the day and offers common sense solutions and not bumper stickers.  And since I now have a lot more time on my hands, I’d be interested in helping begin a new conversation, perhaps even a new coalition, that would be inclusive and not exclusive, that would be open to tea partiers and occupiers, to libertarians and greens, to independents and partisans of all stripes, not because we will always agree with each other, but because we value each other’s opinions and are more interested in the public good rather than private interests that tend to dominate our politics (along with the insiders who benefit from the same old fights).

After all, wouldn’t this be a lot better, and a lot funner, than what we just went through this time around?  I certainly would hope so.

Thank you for taking the time to listen to this apologia, and for the great honor of representing you on the T/E School Board.  I look forward to continuing the conversation.

Sincerely,

Richard Brake
Berwyn. PA

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26 Comments

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  1. This bitter dissertation from Dr Brake is really disappointing.

    I think that he brought fresh and challenging thinking to the School Board that I for one will indeed miss, and we should be grateful for his service. However, to lay the entire blame for his election defeat at the door of the Tea Party label is simply incomplete.

    Dr Brake received more votes in his precincts than either Kichline or Lukens, neither of whom, so far as I am aware, has Tea Party associations and both of whom also lost. On the other hand, Dorsey received more votes than both Wysocki and Freed. Perhaps it’s worth considering that Mr. Dorsey was just more appealing to the electorate than Dr Brake? Mr Dorsey received 52.7% of the votes cast for the two candidates, the D Supervisor candidates received and virtually identical 52.3% of the votes cast for both Supervisor positions.

    So if the Tea Party label did not drive the turnout advantage that Dr Brake acknowledges, what did? If Dr Brake really wanted the race to be local, he should have reacted to the local registration trend in favor of the Democrats and distanced himself as far as possible from the “our objective is to make Obama a one-term President”, voter suppression and shut-down-the-Government tactics of the national organization that has left the entire Republican brand in real trouble.

    Many of the residents of Dr Brake’s district might support his brand of conservatism, although the limits on government that he espouses might be too extreme for the majority. But until the Republican party recognizes the country’s changing demographics, distribution of wealth, social mores and global interconnectedness we’re unlikely to find out. Perhaps rather than using his newly freed-up time to bring together “occupiers and greens”, Dr Brake should focus first on getting the Republican house in order.

    Regarding the specific School Board issues. Dr Brake claims that “Now that I am off the board, there will be nobody making those kinds of arguments”. Well, I certainly hope not. His ideas for “a transparent plan to draw down some of the [Fund Balance] in a coherent fashion” and for “revamping the salary matrix, instituting pilot merit pay programs, and asking teachers to pay private-sector levels for their health care” have my full support and I suspect that of many others, so I hope our representatives are listening. These are not easy objectives and the campaign will be a long one.

    [Reply]

    Pattye Benson Reply:

    There nothing to bar Dr. Brake from continuing to attend school board meetings.

    The audience at school board meetings continues to shrink. There is a divide between the residents, the board and the administration at these meetings. As I wrote yesterday on Community Matters, the atmosphere is very different with the township government in Tredyffrin — there is respect between the township staff, elected officials and residents – as it should be. The staff welcomes our questions and our suggestions. The business manager Tim Klarich and township manager Bill Martin are only too happy to explain ‘line by line’ budget items and offer background as to why the decisions were made. There’s no deferring of questions to the township manager or solicitor by the elected officials, unless they need a legal response. Residents are free to ask questions of any of the staff or supervisors. I should add that residents ask questions throughout the supervisors meetings, on each of the agenda items and on new matters at the end. The questions are responded to immediately after the question is asked. Unlike the school board meetings where you line up in the beginning or end of meeting (not during). All questions are asked before any responses are given. You could have 10 different people with 10 different questions and no one gets a response until all questions are asked — therefore the Board leadership has the ability to conveniently forget some of the questions — in other words, ‘pick and choose’ which will be responded to. Extremely unsatisfactory.

    I hope that the school board recognize the need to improve relationships with residents at meetings. Speaking for myself, I often do not feel welcome. The hand full of residents who care to show up at school board meetings, are not inspired to continue to attend when the school board president Kevin Buraks is often quoted, as he was in the Spoke News earlier this month,

    I always stress at all of our public meetings that we would like more attendance and input from our community. Unfortunately, the few residents that typically attend our meetings and are seen on TV, in my opinion, do not frequently speak for the majority of the community. We certainly need more input from those that truly care about our schools …

    I would suggest that ANY resident who shows up at school board meeting “cares about our school”. As someone who does attend the meetings, I find it very disappointing to read these words from the school board president. And what kind of message does that send to the students … that as a resident you don’t count unless your opinion agrees with the Board. That you should just ‘go along’ with decisions and never question??? In my perfect world, ALL residents would be welcome and ALL voices would be heard. Here’s hoping that the newly elected school board members appreciate these sentiments.

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    Shining Light Reply:

    They way school board meetings are orchestrated, citizens are made to feel like unwanted intrusions. All one has to do is view a meeting on T.V. and witness the intimidation felt by the brave souls who muster the courage to voice a comment.

    If Rich Brake is a “tea bagger” than so am I (I have yet to understand what one is) because I agree with everything is writes. Perhaps had he expressed himself like this 3 weeks ago, the outcome would be different. Maybe now he will feel free and clear to express himself and can have an even greater influence on the process just like Pattye did 4 years when she lost the BOS election only to start Community Matters which in my view has just as much or more influence than having a single membership on a local Board.

    Thank-you Rich for your service and thank-you Pete Connors for trying.

    [Reply]

    Pattye Benson Reply:

    citizens are made to feel like unwanted intrusions

    Sadly, this says it all.

    Based on the election results, it’s probable that Mr. Buraks believes that his ‘leadership’ works and credits that leadership for the quality of the school district. He should get some of those people to attend the school board meetings and applaud his decisions because it’s obvious by his words and actions that the ‘vocal minority’ who attend and ask questions don’t count. I want to be hopeful that the 3 new members will help turn the tides — time will tell.

  2. Since the entire premise underlying of Dr. Brake’s editorial was this — “the white-hot antipathy local democrats have for the tea party convinced many more of them than usual to come out and cast their ballots not only against me, but other republicans as well” — I was expecting him to provide actual evidence that his theory is true. Sadly, my expectation was not met.

    [Reply]

  3. “revamping the salary matrix, instituting pilot merit pay programs, and asking teachers to pay private-sector levels for their health care”
    .
    Laudable goals, but are they realistic or achievable and at what price? One has to first ask why none of the other 60 districts in the Philadelphia area (and probably none of the other 500 districts in the state) have those features.

    [Reply]

    Sidelines Reply:

    Keith…let’s not confuse hyperbole with facts. All this commentary ignores the realities…the “ideal” non partisan process people want is exactly what TE had up until about 2002…when the new approach was to seek a bi-partisan board. THAT is what created campaigns. Before that, we had a very bipartisan board….just no one claimed to be a D because the Ds did not have a party or,process to,identify candidates. So Ds ran on both ballots as they still do, and people ran who were engaged in the schools and familiar with board limitations. And by the way–we DID revamp the salary matrix and added steps and took the starting salary OFF the matrix…but then the PSEA came in and the new board needed no advice/history and we all know the debacle that contract was. I had a long exchange of emails from those days begging them to slow down and being told that they knew what they were doing.
    The School Board is a board…they set policy. I really have no idea how such rancor and ideology will ever function smoothly. But to say that the one-party township board (until now) is better functioning simply reinforces my opinion that you must elect people who play well with others, and have the skills to contribute, not just ideas to generate heat. Labor peace HAS A PRICE. And get real folks….TESDs taxes are too low compared to neighboring districts to sustain the programs in place. They are only “high” when you ignore that fact. And I encourage you all to read the newly published Conestoga profile…the system is not failing our students…not yet anyway.

    [Reply]

    Shining Light Reply:

    TESDs taxes are too low compared to neighboring districts to sustain……….
    Simply not true.

    And do you know the average price of a home in TE? I can assure you it is much higher than Great Valley, Downingtown and West Chester. So surrounding districts may pay more in taxes but the base price of their home is much much lower than in TE.

    The system is not failing our students because parents model, expect and demand excellence. It’s true, there are great teachers in the TE school district, but please let’s be honest, the teacher labor market is swarming with qualified applicants who would jump at the opportunity for a position in the coveted TE School District.

    [Reply]

  4. I voted democrat because I am a democrat and believe in their values. it had nothing to do with the democrat committee telling me that Dr. Brake was a Tea Party Republican. I am insulted that he thinks all democrats voted the way we did because “we were told he was a Tea Party Republican”

    [Reply]

    Shining Light Reply:

    Kathryn,

    Your post demonstrates perfectly what CJ on the main line is talking about.

    Do your democrat values include:

    the threat of outsource to employees who make the least in wages?

    The reduction in wages and benefits to the employees who make the least in wages?

    The granting of salary increases and bonuses to the employees who make the most in wages secretly hidden in a consent agenda in the hopes citizens who have to pay for it don’t find out?

    Because these are just some of the items supported and carried out by the democrat members on this board.

    How do Democrats justify these actions? Are they in line with the Democrat values you write about? If not, exactly what are your values?

    * I voted for Obama the last 2 elections.

    [Reply]

  5. Mr. Brake’s arrogance and contempt for the community is clear in his statement: ” My guess is that the local democrats are completely ignorant of the great thinkers of the modern conservative movement.” He lost because he belittles others and is disrespectful. I witnessed his behavior at board meetings. He is oblivious to how he treats others with disdain.

    BTW, more responses would be provided if we didn’t have to give the required info.

    [Reply]

    margaritaville Reply:

    if I may, involved, what he was saying as I read it was that too many local democrats have never read nor deliberated about the writings of the great thinkers of the modern conservative movement. They are too busy reading ” Dreams of my Father”. Liberalism is dead. Progressivism is the new disease whoops I mean name.. But it was a smart non transmutation of the same thinking. The Tea Party has to change its name just like libs do when their offshoot corrupt organizations are identified… I am thinking of a specific group that was sued and closed only to be reincarnated with another name. Sorry I don’t remember.the name maybe because there are many? My conservative mind can;t bubble it up to consciousness. Maybe someone can help. thanks

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  6. Eliminate party affiliation and backing for school board positions. That is the only way to elect people who are right for the job. 90% or more of the elected local officials are elected simply because of their part affiliation despite the FACT that party lines have almost nothing to do with local politics.
    Get rid of the partys and then the people will really need to campaign based on themselves not the perspective of their party.

    [Reply]

    Pattye Benson Reply:

    Completely agree.

    [Reply]

    Interested citizen Reply:

    I don’t find anything at all in Dr. Brake’s editorial that would have changed anyone’s vote. I think people knew exactly what they were voting about, and turned out because every so often voters find someone or something that is important to them. Dr. Brake has been arrogant, distant and condescending, which is pretty accurately reflected in his editorial. I find it regretable that so many of the replies / opinions here seem to suggest that the voters were somehow misled or ignorant and couldn’t understand the issues. Dr. Brake’s final paragraph is an appeal for a better dialog. I agree, there should be one. But everyone has to come to the table with an open mind, willing to accept that intelligent and well-informed people may disagree with you, and that, indeed, your dearly held opinion could even be wrong. Perhaps the tide will turn in that direction, but I’m not holding my breath.

    [Reply]

    Watching School Board Meetings Reply:

    If you think that Dr. Brake is the only SB member that has been” arrogant, distant and condescending” you haven’t been watching the meetings. With Betsy F. and Karen C. leading the dog and pony show and Kevin waiting in the wings to lend support, Brake and the other SB members don’t have much of an opportunity to speak. No, Brake was not a major player in the “arrogant, distant and condescending” SB behavior.

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  7. Your depth of constitutional knowledge and the great political thinkers on both sides is commendable. Sadly, this is how the dems fight everything now…with personally destructive, adhominum attacts. There is no knowledge of history or they just blatantly lie. Case in point…”if you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor.PERIOD. If you like your healthcare plan, you can keep your healthcare plan.PERIOD”. It wasn’t only President Obama who said that over and over on videotape. It was also Bob Casey and all democrats.

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  8. This long letter by Dr. Brake about his perspectives about his loss is sad.

    Unfortunately, his reflections show that he presumes he was automatically a better candidate than Scott Dorsey, and that any majority of voters choosing Mr. Dorsey over him must be ignorant or ill-intentioned, rather than any responsibility for the loss resting with himself and his own party. I think the voters simply knew and liked Scott Dorsey, the likeable & positive image and message he conveyed, and his genuine down-to-earth way of interacting with others with respect. Mr. Dorsey exuded an attitude of gratitude. Dr. Brake projected an attitude of entitlement.

    How Dr. Brake can ramble on about who is or isn’t “MEAN” and how he has been treated unfairly is confusing at best. Does he think that his, Connors’, and the TTRC’s last minute punch below the belt at fellow candidate Buraks didn’t raise eyebrows and show who is really mean and unfair? On one side, they drag out an irrelevant 5-year-old headline from Allentown, a matter long-since resolved that neither they nor any of the other R’s ever expressed a problem with five years ago or since then but which they suddenly tried to throw out with no time for rebuttal; on the other side, there’s Brake and Connors smiling their stamp of approval on the message and expecting citizens to vote for them because of it. It’s time civility and mutual respect was brought back into the election process.

    The voters in T/E are smart people–the Democrats, Republicans, and Independents alike. There is no dearth of highly educated and high-performing citizens in our school district. They value respecting others and being respected. They do not like being talked down to or being presumed “lesser” than their neighbors based on where they went to school, what they do for a living, whether they stay home to raise their children, their gender, their race, their religion, their political views, or the letters that come before or after their names, be that “Ph.D, M.D., J.D., Jr. III, IV, Mr., Mrs., or Ms.” If they feel ignored or disrespected by their elected officials, they will turn out at the polls to express themselves.

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  9. Ray, I am dismayed at your entry to this discussion. Clearly, and it should be to someone as bright and enlightened as you are, that the Tea Party label was a liability to Dr. Brake. Whining liberals throughout the country yell, scream, stamp their feet and tantrum about the extremism of the tea party. And the main streal media give aide and comfort to this. Just look at the Obama administration. If he was GWB, he would be impeached on at least 4 issues. And at least he would be given a very rough ride on these issues. The only reason why the libs are now recoiling a little from Obama is because he botched this mess called Obamacare. No matter the numbers you sited for the votes taken, Dr Brake was inextricably linked to the national tea party, pilloried for any association he may have had, directly or indirectly and he lost. In the meanwhile, I would like for you to comment in a year or two about whether Dr Brakes premonitions come true. Lets see how the Reverend Scott Dorsey “governs” I wish him well and can’t wait until the he’s involved with teacher negotiations. You close your piece with comment about his good ideas. Well, he is now on the outside. lets see how the new America, the shift of demographics and all that come into play for you, your kids and grandkids. I am worried. Locally, statewise and nationally. By the way, are you happy with the tyranny of this new imperial presidency? Would you be happy with an imperial superintendent in the schools? Let us know!

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  10. Is he done yet????? Go away!!! I am a Republican and being a Republican has nothing to do with it. It has to do with you having poor communication skills. Coming across as a know it all. Not listening to the people in the district. There is a reason why the employees in the district celebrated when you lost. You are just mean.

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  11. Stop with any reference to parties or ideology. It has NOTHING to do with running schools. Vote for people…not parties…local politics are a distraction…trying to create a divide in an election that only makes the sitting board dysfunctional. There is no party divide. 9 people have to work together…because the PSEA exists full time to control the dialogue, and the PSEA doesn’t give a thought to the students or taxpayers or even employees here in TESD. Unions protect power. Divided school boards are so much easier to weaken.

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  12. I agree, there is no party divide on the board, but there is board member divide…….there are 5 that make the decisions, and they talk and collude with each other to make the decisions and the rest are left,,,,,,,well ,,,,,,,,,on the sidelines.

    One only has to look at the Manzone drama at Unionville Chadsford to see how it all works.

    With Betsy gone, and three new board members in place, it will be very interesting to watch. Will they let the new ones in?

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    Keith Knauss Reply:

    Yes, of course there is “board member divide”. Otherwise, there would always be 9-0 votes and no need for the board.
    .
    Yes, of course the board members that think alike on an issue “talk and collude” with each other to reach a consensus and move an issue forward. It’s legal, ethical and necessary. It happens every day at the local, state and national level. It’s called politics.
    .
    But, no one is left on the sidelines. The PA Education Law, the Open Records ACT and the Sunshine Act guarantee that.

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  13. Thank you for your service Dr. Brake.

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    Sidelines Reply:

    Well said Debbie. He was rightfully elected and did his part. I think the noise here is a response to his venting in the paper….which was not helpful, and his sharing of the information regarding negotiations, which were made in executive session, violates his oath of office morally if not legally.

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  14. I disagree, his response in the paper was very helpful. Had he been so open and honest in his 4 years serving this community, I believe he may have kept his seat. No matter how open and honest, though, Scott Dorsey was going to be a formidable opponent to overcome. More citizens voted for Dr. Brake this time around than before and he still lost. Scott is well known in the community, citizens like him, he projects the right image and he got the vote out. It’s as simple as that.

    There was no moral violation in his response. We need our system to revolve around processes designed to promote public input and information.

    The more processes are kept in executive session, the easier it is for officials to exploit their positions of influence

    Thank-you Dr. Brake. Hopefully, you’ll continue to give your input and information to ensure transparency and accountability. I hope all ex board members come forward and are a part of the process as concerned citizens. There is a lot of power in the back seat.

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