Unlocking Equity Through School Board Leadership

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The battle for the soul of public education is happening now. School boards across the country have become the frontline in the fight for equity and inclusion in our schools. Over the past few years, movements such as Moms for Liberty have gained significant influence, shaping education policies and challenging the foundational principles of public schools. Their well-organized efforts have led to flipped school boards, book bans, and curriculum changes, often driven by a far-right agenda.

But it’s not all bleak. There is a growing recognition of the power and responsibility of school boards to champion equity and inclusion. At Embracing Equity, we believe that school boards have a unique opportunity to lead the charge in creating more inclusive and equitable communities. By engaging in this work, we can ensure that our schools remain places where every child, regardless of their background, has the opportunity to succeed.

The Power of School Boards

School boards play a critical role in shaping the educational experience of millions of children. They make decisions about curriculum, school policies, and resource allocation, all of which have a profound impact on students' lives. Historically, these decisions have often been made without sufficient input from marginalized communities, leading to disparities in educational outcomes.

Today, however, we have the chance to change that. By prioritizing equity in school board leadership, we can create policies that reflect the diverse needs of our students. This includes adopting inclusive curricula, ensuring equitable funding for all schools, and creating safe and supportive environments for all students.

The Threat of Extremist Movements

As detailed by Laura Pappano in her book "School Moms: Parent Activism, Partisan Politics, and the Battle for Public Education," extremist movements have recognized the strategic importance of school boards in shaping public education. These groups have mobilized rapidly, using sophisticated campaign tactics and significant financial resources to influence school board elections. Their efforts have led to the implementation of policies that undermine inclusive education, such as banning books and imposing restrictive regulations on teachers and librarians.

The impact of these movements is far-reaching. For example, in Keller, Texas, the school board created complex regulations for buying library books, effectively stalling the acquisition of new educational materials. This not only hampers students' access to diverse and enriching content but also places an undue burden on educators who are trying to provide a well-rounded education.

The Importance of Public Engagement

One of the key lessons from the rise of these extremist movements is the importance of public engagement in school board elections. Historically, these elections have seen low voter turnout, making it easier for well-organized groups to exert disproportionate influence. In some areas, voter turnout in school board elections has been as low as 8-10%.

To counter this, it is crucial for communities to become more engaged in the electoral process. This means staying informed about the candidates and issues, attending school board meetings, and voting in every election. By doing so, we can ensure that our school boards reflect the values of equity and inclusion that are essential for the success of all students.

Learning from Success Stories

Despite the challenges, there are inspiring examples of communities successfully pushing back against extremist agendas. In Bucks County, Pennsylvania, groups like Advocates for Inclusive Education have worked tirelessly to flip school boards back to more inclusive leadership. They have mobilized volunteers, educated voters, and countered misinformation with facts, demonstrating that dedicated and organized efforts can make a significant difference.

Join Us for an Engaging Webinar

To further explore how we can unlock equity through school board leadership, we invite you to join our upcoming webinar on July 10th. This event will feature Ethan Ashley, Co-Founder and Co-CEO of School Board Partners, and will be hosted by Daisy Han, CEO of Embracing Equity. Ethan Ashley will share insights from his extensive experience in supporting school board members who are committed to equity and inclusion.

Key Details:

This webinar is a valuable opportunity to learn more about the role of school boards in promoting equity and how you can get involved in your community. By working together, we can ensure that our schools remain places of learning and growth for every student.

Conclusion

The fight for equity in education is one that requires all of us to be vigilant and engaged. School boards have the power to make meaningful changes that can transform the lives of students and create more inclusive communities. By supporting equitable school board leadership and staying involved in the democratic process, we can ensure that our schools serve the needs of all children.

Join us on July 10th to learn more about how you can be part of this important work. Together, we can unlock equity and build a brighter future for our students and communities.

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