While partisan politics has once again dominated the headlines this election season, the real stories lie with the thousands of newly-elected local officials across the country, including school board members, who have been granted immense power and responsibility to positively impact day to day life in our communities.
Education rarely takes center stage on the national agenda, but right now, it has. We need to keep it there. School board members—whether elected, appointed, volunteer or aspiring, and across charter, district and private schools—must step up in this moment and commit to governing forward to a better “normal.” School Board Partners and Education Board Partners are collaborating to spark a national conversation about governing differently: governing to prioritize both academic achievement and equity for all students, and governing to close opportunity gaps, not just document achievement gaps.
The education sector, like our national politics, has become divisive and entrenched in competing camps that ultimately fail our kids—especially kids of color and kids from low-income communities. It takes courage and support for local elected leaders to set aside our labels, proactively address the racist history of our country and education institutions, and come together to do what’s right for students and families during this crisis and beyond. As our nation and our education system continue to face simultaneous crises— COVID-19 and the impact of systemic racism—this historic event will bring together hundreds of school board members from across the country to spark a national conversation our kids have long been waiting for.
If we can get our school board members moving reforms forward in an equitable and anti-racist way, then the innovations that we seek to create can be owned by communities of color and progress can finally accelerate. To get there, it will be imperative to create spaces like these for board leaders to come together and form a powerful community of like-minded individuals ready to govern with boldness and urgency.
Ethan Ashley is co-founder and co-CEO at
School Board Partners. Beyond his role at School Board Partners, Ethan serves as an elected Orleans Parish School Board member. Ethan has worked on policy and advocacy issues in many positions, including on the Hill, at the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division, at the Urban League of Louisiana, at ...