As a resident of Darien, I appreciate our public schools and the link between the quality of that system and home values in our town. I have spent hours in Board of Education meetings for various town groups. As a result, I have endless respect for those individuals who serve as members. Last week, the Republican Town Committee published their platform for their Board of Education candidates. As I was reading it, I was struck that it espouses things that are false. It talks about “Act(ing) transparently with regard to budget priorities.” However, it was a group of Republican Board of Education members who held a secret caucus to discuss the budget last spring. While that caucus may have been legal, it was certainly not transparent.

Darien parents and residents should want members of the Board of Education to be independent, collaborative and to bring thoughtful, considered ideas to the Board table. The ideal Board member stands up for what they believe is best for our town’s children and does not just parrot the party line dictated by the Republican Town Committee, who are neither education nor policy experts.

The Republican platform uses the following language: “Protect and promote curriculum that emphasizes the ways in which western civilization and the American system have protected, enriched and elevated lives, while ensuring students are instilled with an understanding of the importance of social consciousness, community involvement and their responsibility to be inclusive and strive for continuous improvement.”

While this language is dressed up to sound like admirable goals, its cultural insensitivity and dark undertone echo the “culture war” themes being stoked by the Trump Administration. The Town of Darien and its school system are better than that.

Other parts of the platform talk about “Autonomy and local control - Darien First.” This is to make sure their voters know they are against regionalization. To be clear, no current Democratic Board of Education member has ever supported regionalization, and the Democratic newcomer on the ballot testified against regionalization in Hartford. To their point of “Darien First,” are they saying they want Darien to give up any and all state funding in order to be accountable solely to Darien residents? Are those residents ready to be solely responsible for fully funding our schools?

Differing viewpoints are worthwhile and necessary. Open and frank discussion among Board members often results in growth and development in our schools, but the political parties and their ideologies should keep their hands off of our schools.

Darien needs thoughtful candidates with their own ideas. The Darien Democratic Town Committee has never told a Board of Education member how to vote and pledges never to do so in the future. Can the Darien Republican Town Committee make the same claim?

Ann Reed is the vice chairman of the Democratic Town Committee.