As the November elections quickly approach, many are contemplating who to vote for in the high-profile elections. In this election cycle, we cannot overlook school board elections because it matters who is making decisions for our students.
In Minneapolis Public Schools, nine elected school board members have a responsibility in shaping and monitoring education policies, deciding the direction of the district and how the funds will be spent at the district and school level. Five of the nine seats, two at-large, citywide, one in each of the odd-numbered districts—1, 3, and 5—will be decided in the November 6 election.
School board members chosen will be seated for a term of 4 years, meaning that they will be making decisions through 2022. Yet, given the importance of these responsibilities, voting in local school board elections remain consistently low. It is even lower in people of color who are more likely impacted by inequity in education.
There is a lot at stake and we cannot afford to stay home.
The decisions the school board members make have a great impact on the education and future of the students in our community in many ways that we may not realize. It is up to all of us to know and understand what each school board member believes and supports. At the heart of it all, members of a district’s board of education must believe and ensure all students have access to high-quality teachers and safe learning environments. A school board member must be dedicated to serving all students regardless of race, ethnicity, language spoken at home, or zip code. It means ensuring that all students have the tools and resources they need to learn and succeed no matter where they live or what their life circumstances are.
We must also make sure school board members are committed to culturally relevant teaching practices and pedagogy, rigorous curriculum and high standards of expectations for success. A school board member must ensure that the district is committed to ensuring Special Education and English Language Learners (ELLs) students are getting what they need to be successful in their educational journey.
The future of Minneapolis Public Schools is at a crossroads because it is currently facing fiscal challenges with decreased revenue from steadily declining enrollment. We face an inevitable budget shortfall and that means class size increases, reductions in staff, transportation, supplies, and reductions in the kinds of programs that enrich and expand learning opportunities for our students.
We need school board member who will take his or her fiduciary responsibility seriously and come up with solutions. It is an opportunity to ensure we have a school board member who will fight for ALL students to have access to the resources they need to be college and career ready. A school board member who will ensure that all students have a leveled playing field of access and opportunity so that they can reach their full potential. This is a moment for us as to express our views on educational issues by voting for the candidate who is willing to listen to the divergent views.
It is a thankless job and as a former school board member and father of four students in Minneapolis Public Schools, I know how important it is to close the opportunity gaps and ensure a high quality education that meets the needs of all types of learners.
It is also important to elect a candidate who is willing to work well with other board members to accomplish important tasks of the school board.
We all have a responsibility to be well informed about the candidates we are choosing, because school boards should and do answer to the community they represent. It is very important for us to participate in our democracy and work together to build a district where students, parents, teachers, and staff feel they are welcome and that they belong. Your voice in the local education decision-making process matters and it starts with school board elections – it is up to all of us to vote on November 6. Voting for school board is a powerful way to support our students and community. Our students’ futures depend on it.
stories on education, visit