*By Julie Barrett, Founder, Conservative Ladies of Washington
School boards across America have taken the spotlight in media, parent organizations and communities over the last couple of years. As school closures brought classrooms into our homes on computer screens, parents and citizens alike became concerned and started speaking out and doing more research into what is really going on in our public schools.
While it’s not “new news”, parents have realized that in many cases, the people making high level decisions for school districts do not have any “skin in the game”, meaning they don’t have children or grandchildren in the district they represent. In our school district, not even one of the six school board members has children in school. More diversity (and I’m not talking about skin color) on our school boards would be very beneficial to our students and our communities.
Parents have a unique perspective about students and the education process and how it impacts children on all levels. The involvement of parents in our public schools has consistently dropped over the years as parents have had to prioritize work and other responsibilities outside the home. As a society, we’ve given more control of our children to our schools with each passing year. The time is NOW for parents to re-engage.
In our last election we saw parents all over Washington state, step up and run for school board positions. As expected, these were tough races as the teacher unions have been strategic to fill these positions and they were intent on fighting to keep them. The incumbents in most areas received substantial financial support from the unions and from Democrat organizations. This made it challenging for parents/challengers to overcome as most were grassroots campaigns. However, it was encouraging to see how close many of these races were. And we know that 2022 will see education as a top issue.
These are encouraging times in our country. Parents have awakened and they are acting. We know that it is no longer acceptable for us to allow the public schools to have carte blanche over our children. Parents are asking questions, they’re attending PTA and school board meetings, they’re researching the things going on within their district, including library books and curriculum. Parents are becoming experts on public education. This makes them invaluable for school board positions.
There’s nothing wrong with having directors on the school board who do not have children in the school district. Many parents with school age children have unenrolled their students in favor of private school or homeschool. These parents are determined to affect change and having school-age children, they’re well-equipped to do so. Board members who do not have school age children may have great skills and unique qualifications that make them an asset to the board. A board comprised of a mix of parents and non-parents would be ideal.
Let’s encourage and support parents who are willing to step up and campaign for these critical positions. The movement of parents in education has the potential to create great change in our public schools and help to turn our attention back to academics and preparing our children with life skills they will need beyond high school. You may be a parent who feels like you couldn’t possibly be qualified for a position like this, but let me assure you, the fact that you are a parent is your qualification.