The West Chester Area School District has several school board members, including the current board president, who are endorsed by the Pennsylvania State Education Association (PSEA) teachers’ union. While my colleagues and I who run the Students First West Chester PAC support the hard-working teachers and staff throughout the district, we believe that the PSEA does not represent the true needs of the teachers who pay dues, does not care about our community, and has blatantly ignored or overridden the needs and desires of parents and students during the pandemic.
Similar to the National School Boards Association that labeled parents who speak out at school board meetings as domestic terrorists, the PSEA has its own political agenda that appears to be unrelated to instruction and academic outcomes.
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So, we decided to try to counter PSEA’s political dominance of our local education governance by recruiting, endorsing, and supporting school board candidates as an alternative to their endorsed group. Students First was created to support candidates, regardless of political affiliation, who respect parental rights, who actively listen to their constituents, and who will not allow schools to be shut down again.
Without any previous political experience, we embarked on a campaign to educate our community and, despite the odds, encourage voters to stand against a school board that had become much too comfortable with wielding unaccountable power.
And the voters have spoken.
Students First West Chester is thrilled to announce that Stacey Whomsley, one of our three endorsed school board candidates, has been elected to the West Chester Area School District Board in Region three. And we are extremely pleased to see that three out of the four incumbents vying for re-election were voted out of office.
Students First West Chester is thrilled to announce that Stacey Whomsley… has been elected to the West Chester Area School District Board in Region three.
With this result, the West Chester community has strongly declared that we will not tolerate bullies in the boardroom, and the parents’ and taxpayers’ demands for transparency and respect must be honored.
While the results have not yet been certified, Chester County Voter Services reports that the results are “substantially complete.”
Students First West Chester also endorsed Ada Nestor, and Anita Edgarian (as a write-in candidate), and we’re incredibly proud of the results for both candidates. Nestor earned 36% of the votes in Region One despite a barrage of personal and political attacks from local media and left-wing organizations. Anita Edgarian, running in Region three, joined the race quite late — in September — after being physically intimidated by current school board president, Chris McCune. Nevertheless, she had a remarkable turnout for a write-in candidate.
While the specific names for the write-in candidates are not yet available, Edgarian probably received the majority of the more than 2,000 write-in votes cast in the county. This high vote count for Edgarian likely resulted in ending the eight-year tenure of the board president.
But ending the reign of the school board incumbents is not the end of the road. Now is the time to bring the community together and work towards greater understanding and mutual respect.
Ending the reign of the school board incumbents is not the end of the road.
To do that we must remove politics from classrooms; the Board and community members need to role model civil discourse for students; the Board must not be beholden to one interest group, like the teachers’ union; and the Board should expect and welcome differing opinions and perspectives so that the community can engage in real dialogue to find solutions for the betterment of the students and schools.
With the overwhelming win for Whomsley and the loss for the board president, Students First West Chester has accomplished its goals of getting at least one high quality school board candidate on the board and holding those elected officials responsible who did not fully reopen our schools for almost a year. We have confidence that Whomsley will advocate for students, parents, teachers, and the community at large with respect.
Congratulations to Stacey Whomsley for her overwhelming win in Region three, to Anita Edgarian for disrupting the status quo and likely receiving more write-in votes than any previous WCASD School Board Director candidate, and to Ada Nestor for persevering amidst viscous adversity. Students First is incredibly proud of the efforts of all three candidates and volunteers and has already begun planning for the 2023 election cycle.
Beth Ann Rosica, Ph.D., a parent in the West Chester Area School District and an advocate for educationally disadvantaged students across the country, has a private consulting business in the Education and Human Services field.