Why Should You Care About Your Local School Board
Did you know that in 2017 nearly half of America’s 1,000 largest school districts are holding elections? Those elected school board members will represent over 10 million students throughout 34 states in the U.S. Yet, local school board elections are notorious for low voter turnout—often just five or ten percent.
We can do better, and as Christians, we have a great opportunity to bring the influence of our faith into this important responsibility of educating our kids.
We created this 3-part series on school boards elections to address some critical issues that every voter should consider in their local school board election. We will be releasing one a week for the next three weeks. Read the first article below.
Why Should You Care About Your Local School Board?
By Ross Izard
I think we often get caught up in the hype of state and national elections. We argue about the relative merits of candidates for president, Congress, and governor - and these are important conversations. But do you realize that you might likely influence your community more directly through your local school board?
While the specific powers and responsibilities of school boards vary by state, a central theme is present: School boards provide an accessible way for parents, taxpayers, and citizens to make their voices heard in education policy, such as school choice, teacher selection, curricular content, and the values that schools uphold and teach to students. These matter, and they have the potential of influencing an entire generation.
While state and federal lawmakers alone have the authority to pass and alter laws, school boards often have significant latitude when it comes to determining policy and procedures at the ground level. In some states, school boards are granted even more authority under state constitutional “local control” clauses.
The authority to determine policy and direction in a school district makes school boards critical governing bodies for anyone interested in education-related issues. A great deal can be accomplished by talking directly to the elected bodies responsible for overseeing the actual operation of school districts themselves.
Your efforts to influence your school board may not make the paper, but could lead to lasting change in your schools and community. Sometimes, these changes have broad and even national implications. For instance, in Douglas County, Colorado, a locally elected school board is currently the key decision-making body in perhaps the most important constitutional debate over parental choice in education in American history. Yes, your involvement does matter!
There are numerous ways to get involved with your local school board. In many cases, board members make themselves directly accessible to members of the community via phone, email, or community meetings. Many others are active on social media. Citizens can also attend school board meetings, which nearly always allow for public comment directly to the board. And, of course, you can impact who sits on your school board by voting.
This fall, over 700 school board seats are up for election, representing over 10% of K-12 kids in America.
Remember, you can’t count on someone else to represent your views. If you aren’t there to speak up, chances are that no one else will—or that someone who believes something different will do so in your stead. So get out there and get involved!
My Faith Votes—is a nonpartisan movement that motivates, equips and activates Christians in America to vote in every election, transforming our communities and influencing our nation with biblical truth. By partnering with national faith leaders, My Faith Votes provides resources to help Christians Pray, Think, and Act to create an America where God is honored in the public square.