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Do Teachers Belong in the Schoolhouse or on the School Board?

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Should teachers be on local school boards? I think so.

Who else is better to help make informed decisions on local school governance, right? Those who know best about what happens when the rubber meets the road.. 

I love working with educators. I mean...LOVE working with educators. And the thing I love most is the moment when they realize that they have lot to offer in the education community, starting from the classroom and moving beyond.

When teachers first recognize that they each hold a superpower to impact change in their own particular way. 

I witnessed one of those moments about month ago in our Current Trends in Education class at Mount Holyoke College, where I teach graduate teacher leadership students from across the country. We were digging into local governance--school committees and school boards. Yes, nerdy, I know. But integral for teacher leaders who are wanting to understand how budget impacts the classroom, where the access points are for teachers, and other touch points for implementing change. You know, the normal Monday night conversation topics.

One of our graduate students, a math coach in a local Massachusetts school district, has been growing more and more passionate about policy in every class. You can feel her energy through every word she says. She's plugged in to the fact that she can impact learning both inside and outside the classroom, and is trying to figure out what that looks like for her.

Our conversation lead to a headline I shared about how a local school board position was filled by just three votes--three votes (read more about it in my rant here)! This young teacher piped in about her idea of running for elected office and how that could impact students where she lived.

I thought that was the end of the conversation, at least for the time being. At least until her school year in the classroom wrapped up. But then I realized otherwise...

An email thread was sent out amongst the cohort, with this subject line: "When you take your policy class seriously and run for schoolboard." 

Attached was the best news I heard all day: She had run for her local school committee.

Did she win? No. Not this time. But she learned a lot of valuable lessons to share with colleagues, including the following barriers which impeded her brilliant idea:

  • The information on the process of running is really hard to find (Why is that? Is that just a small town thing?). 
  • She didn't realize she could do it until it was late in the election process (back to point number one).
  • And, oh yeah, she works full time as a teacher (and not in the district she ran in, otherwise she couldn't run)!

I am so stinking proud of her bold move. And what's to come. But I can't help but think of this: What if we had more teachers on our local school boards?

I think amazing things would happen if we elected people on our school boards who have the expertise in teaching and learning, and could help others put their fingers on the potential impact that policy can have on our students.

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I think there are such possiblities here for teachers who want to get involved in educational change in a meaningful way, especially since teachers are used to high stress, looking for long-term impact, and negotiating challenges through every move in their days. 

I'd also like to end with another option for the title of this blogpost:

What if we all had the courage of this teacher?

Photos courtesy of David Jakes and Matthew Paul Arrugail

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The opinions expressed in An Edugeek’s Guide to K-12 Practice and Policy are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.

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