November 2, 2021 marks an important day of school board recall elections throughout the United States, including Wisconsin. The two common issues driving these recall efforts and dividing the country are mask mandates and critical race theory (CRT).
In the school district adjacent to where I grew up, four members of the Mequon-Thiensville school board are fighting to keep their position: Erik Hollander, Akram Khan, Chris Schulz, and Wendy Francour. The recall effort targeted everyone eligible, apparently regardless of personal merit (positions held less than one year are ineligible for recall).
Khan, a Muslim, faced heightened scrutiny from his challengers. According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, an anonymous flier distributed in community paper boxes questioned the legitimacy of state benefits Khan received in 2012-13. At that time, Khan’s son was diagnosed with leukemia and his wife lost her job. The shameful attempt to smear Khan’s name using dubious allegations about events that occurred a relatively long time ago reflects the nature of politics today.
Elected officials, including members of a school board, should act in accordance with their conscience without the fear that every unpopular decision they make will trigger a recall. Recall elections should be used sparingly where officials grossly misuse their entrusted powers or act nefariously. Absent such an event, voters should wait until the next election cycle to voice their desire for change. At that time, all elected officials are inherently held accountable for their actions.
Our children must not be used as political pawns. Rather than blindly following the mantra espoused by politically motivated groups, we should do our own due diligence investigating each issue and each candidate. We should carefully choose what we think is best, in the interest of education, while encouraging respect for all individuals and their rights regardless of race, gender, or creed.
Although local officials influence and manage the day-to-day operations of a municipality, many voters tend to overlook elections that do not involve big-ticket items. The outcome of these school board recall elections may have a huge impact on the quality of education our students receive. I encourage members of our community to focus on local issues, vote, and engage in the civic process.