I interviewed Beth bye on April 23, 2006. I wrote this after the interview:
I just got back from meeting with Beth Bye. Our chat lasted for a bit more than an hour, and I got to get a better sense of who she is as a parent, education professional, West Hartfordite, school board member, Connecticutian, and candidate for state representative. I had the good fortune of being able to stroll over to her home from school in the cool April drizzle. Let me make this clear to you, as I did to Bye, I am not a reporter. I have not done an interview since high school. While I know a few techniques, I am no professional. I am a teacher, and a creative writing teacher at that. I am all about embellishing, but I will try to be true to the chat.
When I asked Bye why she was initially interested in running for the school board, she had a detailed and impassioned history explaining why. She began by alluding to something Jodi Rell may have said about women getting into politics, that they get into politics because they feel something is at stake, particularly for their child. When her daughter was an infant in a daycare center, a daycare center that Bye ran, Bye was saddened by the turnover rate of her staff, thus affecting the quality of care her daughter was receiving. Quality care, Bye explains, is affected by how permanent the staff is. She became involved with Worthy Wages Campaign which calls for higher wages to child care employees so employees will be less likely to leave the profession and be more likely to be more effective.
It began with an editorial she wrote. She felt strongly about magnet schools, and her daughter was currently attending one. She began watching board meetings on TV, and soon she began attending them. Being situated close to the school, Bye hosted Mothers’ coffees, where concerned mothers gathered to talk about the issues facing their children’s schools, and thus she decided to run to make a difference. She was also exasperated by the disarray of the board at the time, citing Joe DeLucco’s ability to silence many parents trying to raise concerns. Being an education professional and a mother, Bye certainly had kids’ interest at the forefront.
And now she is running for state representative. This does not seem an uncommon route, as Bye herself explains that she can actually do something about budget allotment for school districts if she is a member of the assembly. Since we are working with an outdated formula for state funding of schools, she hopes to work on this issue.
In her work on the school board, it sounds like she is a pragmatist. In our chat she spoke about research and evidence over and over, making it sound like her every decision is based in empirical evidence. She also said she listens to all sorts of people involved: students, parents, community members. Since I am a teacher, we also chatted shop. I asked her about her views on tracking. She said she needed to be upfront with me, that she has done a large quantity of research in the field on heterogeneous grouping of kids. We seemed to see eye to eye on this issue. I recalled how I read about the regular vs. honors. vs AP discussion in the West Hartford News. I was so annoyed at this article, and Sujal and I had a discussion on it ourselves. Sujal would rather err on the side of tracking. Bye said her first stance was that there should not be an honors biology track. But parents convinced her, again, bringing in evidence from a variety of sources. Bye touts one of her strengths as being a reasonable person and having an open mind in terms of listening to people she does not necessarily agree with. Clearly constituents can talk to her, can approach her, and she will listen.
She talked about being a responsive person, that in her time on the board, people will ask her questions because they know that she will investigate and address these questions. That sounds like real representation to me.
As you can tell, I support her. I encourage anyone who has interest to become involved in her campaign. Let’s get her elected! More of the interview to come…