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School board elections: Someone’s paying attention but it’s not us

 

Maybe if local school board elections came with an equal amount of hoopla as national elections, then local citizens would pay attention to these elections that affect their communities directly. Maybe if my local school board election was rocked with scandal and candidates started belittling each other at every turn, then parents would know who was running.

Now, that would be a step in the right direction.

According to Ballotpedia, “643 of America’s largest school districts by enrollment are holding elections for 2,041 seats. These elections will take place in 38 states. These districts collectively educated a total of 16,965,635 students during the 2013-2014 school year—34 percent of all K-12 students in the United States.”

The benefactors of these elections are paying attention. Big money, influence and government are paying attention. Parents are not paying attention to more important local races and the community hasn’t taken notice to what others see as a definite benefit.

Futurity.org reports on a study of school board races in four cities, researchers at Michigan State University and Columbia University discovered that outside donors have set up shop and are not looking to go anywhere anytime soon. The education of our children is seen as a lucrative commodity.

“Historically, school board elections have been low-budget and low turnout affairs often dominated by teacher unions. But that’s all changing with outside donors playing a large role in the school board elections in all four of the cities examined,” futurity.org reports.

And that trend probably isn’t a passing fad.

Do school board elections need sensationalism? No. Do they need scandal and drama when we are seeking to educate and get the best for our children? No. Do we need to be aware of who is making and influencing education policy in our communities? Yes.

Do parents and local communities need allies even if they are from outside of their communities?

Yes, but only if those parents identify and are engaged with said allies and those allies support the needs of families within these school districts.

Allies aren’t people who set up a field office in your community during the election cycle only to send in a moving company to pack up when the elections are over. Allies are those who are going to be there year after year with the support that communities say they need. Allies don’t pick a candidate to run in a race for an open seat. Allies back the candidate that the parents and community sees as a viable option.

But do I blame special interests for coming on in and taking advantage of us in our communities? Definitely not—our neglect is to be blamed.

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