Dialogue with Pedagogues January Newsletter, Issue III: School Boards
Happy new year and thanks for welcoming us back to your inbox after an unexpected fall hiatus. Our team looks forward to bringing you a variety of education-covered topics on a monthly basis.
If you are new to our newsletter, here is a quick rundown of how our team approaches the work each month. We start with a pressing education issue, January‘s focus is the purpose of school boards, and then we curate a variety of different sources and opinions to ensure our readers have a common foundation to approach the topic. We provide you with a quick synopsis of each article and a link to pursue the full read at your convenience.
The two other important pieces to our newsletter include commentaries by our contributing writers and an interview with a leader or practitioner in the field. To keep things interesting, our team rotates the roles each month.
Sarah L. Evans commentary, School Boards: Can we democratically engage communities about public schools? provides an important lesson on the history of school boards and simultaneously challenges readers to think about what do we actually want the role of school boards to be moving forward. John Boumgarden interviewed Adam Dauksas, a Partner with the law firm Himes, Petrarca, & Fester, where they talked about how school boards have come under fire as of late and a push for more conversations and healthy debate moving forward. You can read and engage with his interview here.
Jon Valant, writing for The Brookings Institution Brown Center on Education Policy, calls on communities to vote in their local school board elections. The voter turnout in these elections is some of the lowest in all elections. He provides suggestions for how to increase voter turnout that would also ensure a more equitable representation on school boards of the communities the district encompasses.
Brian Lopez’s article first appeared at The TexasTribune.org, eventually featured by The 74, and is a fascinating read about the Fort Worth Independent School District. This is a district that has had multiple school board meetings that were firestorms in the past year. Mask mandates and critical race theory are two topics that highlight just how polarized the community is and how much of a challenge this presents for the school board. Ultimately, things took such a dangerous turn for one school board member in this district she resigned and moved. A lawsuit continues to entangle the district and the community with little end in sight.
Our final article comes from Edweek and discusses the experiences of two school board members: one in Cherry Creek, CO and one in West Chester, PA. While their tenure has been different, common lessons can be learned: talk to educators in your district, follow national trends, be prepared and well informed.
As always, we look forward to your ongoing readership and dialogue with us. Please share your thoughts and feedback with us, as well as any interesting topics or articles you would like us to feature. Thanks for reading.