Huntsville School Board Endorsements: King and Matthews


As you know, there are two board seats on the upcoming election on August 28th. I believe that Mrs. Pat King running for District 1 and Mr. Carlos Matthews running for District 5 would both make excellent school board members. A school board member should demonstrate intellectual curiosity (something that has been sorely lacking among our current board), both Mrs. King and Mr. Matthews will bring this to the board. Thus they both receive my endorsement for Huntsville City Schools Board of Education.

The first seat is the District 1 seat currently held by Mrs. Laurie McCaulley. I’ve written in the past about the controversy surrounding the inclusion of the Nepotism policy as a fairly blatant attempt to control who does and who does not run for a school board seat.

(No, I have no idea why the Huntsville Times isn’t covering this issue. Yes, I still subscribe to the Huntsville Times.)

Running for that seat are Laurie McCaulley (the current board president), Pat King (who split the HEA endorsement this past week), Gwen Ragland, and Reginald Hill.

Yes, a split endorsement is as ridiculous as it sounds. It would be nice if HEA could manage to actually take a stand occasionally.

In the second race for the District 5 seat Mrs. Alta Morrison has decided not to run again. Running for her seat are Carlos Matthews and Mike Culbreath. They also split the HEA endorsement. Additionally, Mr. Culbreath is a local real estate developer. In my opinion, the last thing our city needs is for our developers to have more influence on our school board.

Of the six people running for a seat on the board, only three regularly attend board meetings. McCaulley is of course paid to be there. Only Pat King and Carlos Matthews regularly attend the meetings on their own time. I believe that Mike Culbreath might have attended one meeting in the past year. As someone who attends nearly every board meeting (excluding the ones that they don’t actually post until after the meeting occurs, of course), I cannot imagine how someone who doesn’t attend the meetings regularly is in anyway qualified to run for a seat on the board. This alone, in my mind, excludes half of the people from running for the board.

If you don’t care enough to attend the meetings on your own time, you don’t deserve to be paid to attend the meetings.

Pat King and Carlos Matthews care about our schools enough to devote their own time toward helping them improve. Both of these candidates have demonstrated their concern and commitment to our schools over the past year. Both have demonstrated a commitment to asking questions of the Superintendent and the current Board members.

And really, that’s all I’m looking for in a board member: someone who will ask questions and listen, truly listen to the answers before arriving at a decision. This is, after all, the heart of education: intellectual curiosity and a willingness to consider opposing views before arriving at a decision.

Both Pat King and Carlos Matthew have consistently demonstrated a willingness to ask questions and to listen before making a decision. They have both demonstrated to me a willingness to learn. And that above all else is something that our board of education should embody.

If our board members simply accept recommendations without question, as our current board has consistently done for the past year, how can they model intellectual curiosity for our students? Pat King and Carlos Matthews will be excellent role models for our students in this regard.

But just because I’ve offered an endorsement, that doesn’t mean that you need to accept such an endorsement without question. Honestly, such an attitude runs counter to everything that I believe in.

Asking questions isn’t disrespectful; it’s the highest form of respect. Asking questions isn’t rude, uppity, mean, threatening, or intimidating. The ability to ask questions is the single most important gift that we have been given. It is a demonstration of interest and love.

And so, you will have a couple of opportunities to ask questions for yourself of the candidates. See for yourself if their answers lead you to a greater understanding of the truth. Don’t take my word for anything: investigate for yourself. And then vote for the candidate that you believe will do the most for our children, our schools and our community.

One chance that you’ll have to do that with Pat King, will be tomorrow (Sunday, August 12, 2012) at 2:00pm. Mrs. King, along with Mr. Charlie Holley (candidate for U.S. Congressional seat from the 5th District) will host a “Meet and Greet” at 203 Hawks Crest Circle in Madison.

Also, a few days before the election on Tuesday, August 21, 2012 from 5:30 – 7:30pm there will be an additional debate between all the candidates for both school board and mayor at St. Luke Missionary Baptist Church, 1800 Sparkman Dr.

If you live in these districts (or our city as a whole), you should take the time to inform yourself about those who are running for these seats.

I believe that Pat King and Carlos Matthews will make excellent board members. Who are you planning to support? Let’s talk about it below.

"Children see magic because they look for it." --Christopher Moore, Lamb: The Gospel according to Biff, Jesus' childhood pal.


  1. “(No, I have no idea why the Huntsville Times isn’t covering this issue. Yes, I still subscribe to the Huntsville Times.)”

    Could it be for the same reason HEA is giving “split endorsements”?

  2. Thank you for the information about the debate. Unfortunately, I did not see the info about the Meet and Greet until this evening.

    Question: Why do you put so much emphasis on physical attendance at the board meetings? That is not an accurate indicator for me. Personally, when I cannot attend a board meeting (which has been very often lately), I watch them on ETV. I get just as much response from the board and superintendent during those meetings as you do (ha, ha). I also have taken the added step to record the meetings via DVR so that I can review details I might otherwise have missed (without running afoul of security). I really don’t know much about Matthews or Culbreath, but physical attendance at board meetings doesn’t seem like a reasonable basis upon which to decide a vote.

    1. While I agree that much of the information is available via the TV broadcast, not all of it is. There is no interaction between the board and the public when the public is watching from home. That’s crucial.

      Also, as someone who attends most of the meetings AND records them at home (when they don’t cancel the broadcast), I know that I do not get as much from the meetings just watching them on TV. There are too many distractions at my house to give the board and their decisions my full attention.

      Finally, if someone wishes to be a board member, they should be participating in the process. Attending board meetings is the best, and in many ways the only way for a non-employee to interact with board members and central office personnel. Watching on TV at home allows one to be informed, which is good, but it’s not participation.

      Showing up makes the board and superintendent aware that you care.

      As Woody Allen said, 90% of life is showing up. If someone wants to participate, great. If they want to be a board member, great. But you not participating in the process when you’re at home.

      These six individuals want to direct policy for the district. The least they can do is show up.

      That’s why I think it’s so important. It’s fine if you disagree. That’s why I recommended that you arrive at your own decision. For me, showing up matters.

      1. Just so you know, I do actually participate from home. I often email board members during the meetings and almost always get a reply – many times with good back and forth discussion (responses are after the meetings, of course). Having attended many, many board meetings, I can say assuredly that the vast majority of interaction between the public and the board during these meetings happens before or after the meetings now that the procedures have changed. So I would have to disagree with that premise.

        That being said, I can see why it would be important if not invaluable for a candidate to be available to the public at these meetings.

        1. I’m not disagreeing with you and your approach to interacting with the board. Clearly my approach leaves much to be desired. Neither am I attempting to evaluate your level of participation. If they weren’t regularly making decisions that were hurting my children, I would stay home too.

          But I do believe that it’s important for someone who is running for a seat on a public board of this nature to show up. I think that it shows something about the individual’s commitment to the process and to, in this case, our kids and our schools, how often they make time to attend the meetings. I believe this is a valid point of comparison when attempting to decide on the best candidate to lead our schools. That’s why I included it. It’s not the only one, but it is an important one. Yes, the interactions before and after the meetings are crucial to actually getting your ideas before the board. That type of interaction is typically difficult if not impossible without attending the meeting.

          Noticing that two candidates show up and that three do not (at least not with any regularity) matters to me.

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