By Gail Kablau
This is the time of year when school board candidates start their campaigns for spring elections. In my experience, many support staff members don’t really get involved in school board races, or even take the time to attend meetings. I have always found that to be worrisome, because these people are making important decisions that affect our everyday work lives, and the lives of the students, which oftentimes are our own children.
And here’s the thing – school board candidates must live in the community in order to serve on the school board. Statistics show that a large majority of support staff also live in the community of the school district. So, what is it about going to a school board meeting or getting involved in the election process that is so intimidating? Maybe support staff members, who live in smaller communities like I do, have personal relationships with those serving on the school board and that makes them uncomfortable.
Because we have personal relationships with them, their kids are in class with our kids, we attend the same church, or maybe we have worked together in Scouting or parent groups, we have a unique look into where these candidates stand on things. When they are elected to the school board, it makes a difference if they see our faces in the audience when they are making critical decisions. If we don’t show up, then our voice ends with our vote on Election Day.
As education support professionals, we have a responsibility to make sure that school board members recognize us in that role, as well as being their neighbors. We ARE the community, and we need to hold them accountable for the decisions they make, whether it’s during budget season, in negotiations, when advocating for each other or in our daily professional work.
So, if you have not done so before, consider getting involved in the election process in your local association. Get the word out about the candidates that understand the needs of public schools and what’s best for our kids. Sit in on a school board meeting once in a while to see what’s going on firsthand.
If your local association doesn’t get involved in school board elections, I’m happy to help you with ideas on how to get organized around that. Let’s Talk!
Gail Kablau is the WEAC Education Support Professional (ESP)-at-Large Board Representative. Contact her at: firstname.lastname@example.org.