I debated with myself over writing this letter, but some narratives should be shared to understand why a father and community member decides to step up and take a chance for change.
Just two summers ago, Brook and I sat side-by-side on the couch, pouring over figures, data, opinions and conjectures, all centered around an education funding battle that began over a decade ago. As a union leader and teacher, I felt I knew exactly what the fight was at the bargaining table.
But Brook needed more than just the passionate dissent of an educator. He questioned, he debated, and ultimately he went to the Washington legislature website to do what few are willing to do: read the entire contents of a senate bill — as well as all of its revisions. It was there he found a place between the stance of the school board and the information presented to union leadership.
But, that’s Brook Willeford. He listens, questions, researches, and — above all — seeks to know something from all facets. Each time his experience is questioned, or he is diminished to being “a nice man from a nice family,” I remember the efforts Brook takes to understand, be it the law, situations, drive of a person, worries of parents, passion of a teacher or concerns of a community member.
The moment Brook decided it was time, he threw his entire being into it. He attended a class hosted by the Washington State School Directors Association, researched school board policies and the RCWs outlined by state law, and reached out to all manner of stakeholders for their insights, perspectives, and hopes for the future of SWSD.
It takes a village, they always say, and Brook wants to bring the village back into the schools. He wants to make it easier for the community to participate in the conversation, and he wants that conversation to be rich, diverse and ultimately about what is good for kids. It is time for the school board to be about South Whidbey. No more cookie-cutter policies, no more tone deaf decision-making, no more one-way communication that leaves people voiceless.
Brook has a clear vision, advocates for both families and the community, and is ready to collaborate to make policies and decisions that are specific to what South Whidbey needs rather than one-size-fits-all “solutions.”