Tom Decosimo has done the citizens of District Two a great favor in proudly self-identifying as a Republican. Even if you are a staunch Republican, you can no longer in good faith support him to be a member of the Hamilton County Board of Education because he has told us his party ideologies will get in the way of the very job he wants you to elect him to. The reason our state codified the fact these school board elections should be non-partisan is so that people, regardless of political affiliation, could put that platform aside and be an advocate for our public school system.
Decosimo has told us he is unwilling to do that on billboards and mailers.
We have a built-in system of political checks and balances in our current system because the Hamilton County Board of Commissioners are already representing your political beliefs. The School Board’s job is to unashamedly advocate for public schools, to dream in an aspirational way, and to listen to professional educators and procure resources on behalf of the public schools. When the board put forth a budget back in June of 2019, the Hamilton County Board of Commissioners voted it down along party lines with only Republicans voting against it. The school board went to work and put together a budget the commission could approve. The system worked and your advocates on the school board negotiated the best budget they could with the partisan commission.
How can a self-described Republican advocate for our public schools? In short, they cannot and still be a Republican. In Tennessee, Republicans support education savings accounts, it is part of their platform. Mr. Decosimo’ s brother is helping Bill Lee advocate for ways to steer money that would otherwise go to public schools into private schools. You cannot be a good proponent of public schools and support less funding for those schools. Voting for a Republican who is unwilling to put aside the party platform to be on the school board is like welcoming the fox into the hen house with open doors.
In a recent poll, more than 90 percent of black people said they view the Republican party as racist. Blacks make up 44 percent of the student population of Hamilton County Schools. Whether the perception is warranted or not, it is important to note. When state law would have allowed Decosimo to put his party affiliation aside, he chose to alienate a large number of the student body by proclaiming it proudly. Add this to the fact that Decosimo will not support equality when asked in the school board debates, and one has to wonder what his agenda is.
The Hamilton County Board of Education is no place for political ideologies. The Hamilton Board of Education must be made of people who are zealous advocates of public school and seek to procure as many resources as possible for our teachers and students. It is no place for a political ideologue who is not even willing to run a non-partisan race. Decosimo should run for the County Commission where he can promote his agenda when Marco Perez and the other members of the Hamilton County Board of Education put forth zealous advocacy for our public schools.
At a time in our country where our fault lines are more visible than ever, let us take a stand, progressive or conservative, Democrat or Republican and deny national politics a seat on the Hamilton County Board of Education. It is the one place we can show the next generation that partisanship is not as important as their futures. Let’s elect non-partisan, values-oriented Marco Perez on Thursday.