Who Elected These State and Local Leaders Anyway?

It’s Time to Pay Attention

We just completed the NSPRA Executive Board meeting this past weekend, and the environmental scanning exercise forced us to ask the question, “Who elected these legislators, anyway?”

And we all know the answer: We did.

Even if you did not vote in the recent elections, you did elect them by your absence or lack of effort to learn more about their stance on public education.

To protect the future of all children everywhere, we ask that you begin paying more attention to your elections. It is time to ask, “Who’s for kids, and who’s just kidding?”

NSPRA believes in authentic public engagement and transparency, but it takes energy and perseverance to see what candidates really stand for. Yes, it is work to do so and these folks count on voter apathy and complacency to pave their way to victory.

Are We Reaching a Tipping Point?

A glimpse of good news that NSPRA President Jim Cummings, APR, mentioned in his NSPRA column this month is that he feels we are reaching a tipping point. Parents, business leaders, and others are saying that proposed changes in public education will be the beginning of the end, changing housing values in communities where people actually want to live and prosper in the years ahead.

Many proposed changes are based on the wishes of money-enriched groups who push their brand of education. And their proposals, for the most part, do not reach or meet the needs of all children in our communities.

Years ago, I started a student school board program in which a high school student was selected to sit on the district’s school board. The practice served the district well because it gave regular board members a reality check on their decisions about students and it gave the students a snapshot of local board governance and politics.

Just last week, Ed Week ran a story penned by a former Maryland student board member in a large county system. Check out the insight by John Mannes:

Students suffer when politics becomes a priority. School boards become the target of voters not because of poor platforms, insufficient creativity, or lack of effort, but because of naiveté and unprofessional conduct. Our national conversation on education should include more discussion of effective school system leadership, not just of increasing test scores and global competitiveness.

Voters should consider behavior in addition to statistics when choosing their local school boards…. A dysfunctional board can mean years of stalled progress on improving schools. Allowing the campaign mentality to tarnish relationships at a cost to students, teacher, and parents is never good governance.

Let’s Learn a Lesson from Mannes

We must focus on all key elections — especially primaries — because that is where most candidates set their platforms, align themselves with their brand of education, and seek campaign funding.

Do your homework, stay engaged, register to vote, and commit to voting in your next state and local elections.

And when you review the candidates’ qualifications, please answer the question, “Who’s for kids, and who’s just kidding?”

Rich Bagin, APR
NSPRA Executive Director

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