It's a high bar to unseat an incumbent in any race. In this one, however, Shimiko Montgomery simply has more knowledge and on-the-ground experience in schools, making her a candidate who can rise to the bar.
We like Andy High. We really do. For the past six years, he's been a solid presence on the Bend-La Pine School Board—a reasonable person who's able to work well with people from both sides of the political aisle. But High himself admits that his primary expertise around education comes from when he was a student himself. As the owner of Thompson Pump and Irrigation, with a bachelor's in public policy and administration, and some time spent serving with Sen. Tim Knopp as policy advisor, his expertise is valuable for the community, but that expertise may be better served on other boards.
Bend-La Pine Schools—like most schools in Oregon—continue to grapple with low on-time graduation rates, large class sizes, achievement gaps for students of color and low levels of mental and social supports for struggling students. Montgomery has faced these issues during her time as a school counselor and will be more well-versed and ready to tackle these challenges on the board. While board members don't work directly in schools, an astute board will be able to offer explicit oversight and guidance in ways to handle these issues.
High agrees with the Carver model of governance, in which a board governs at arm's length from day-to-day operations. While that is, on paper, the role of a school board, that's not to say that a board member shouldn't possess deep institutional knowledge of the causes, effects and solutions that dictate policies. That's where Montgomery's experience can come into play.
We applaud the entire board for overseeing the adoption of stronger security measures at Bend-La Pine Schools, and for fostering the inclusion of more career and technical education courses in secondary schools. Moving forward, with a continued population explosion—and an increasingly diverse population—social supports are only going to be more crucial. With the passage of the Student Success Act in the Oregon Legislature this week, we can assume more dollars will be flowing into the district soon. We need a board that can ask the right questions and provide guidance to ensure an adequate amount of that money goes toward social supports. We believe Montgomery can help make that happen. Vote Shimiko Montgomery for Bend-La Pine Schools, Zone 3.