Former Sec. of Ed John King Calls on School Boards to Govern With Equity

Nov 18, 2020 12:00:00 AM


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—[pullquote]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.[/pullquote]

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.

Our Collective Power: A National Summit on Courageous School Board Leadership will feature a diverse group of nationally-recognized speakers— including former United States Secretary of Education and President & CEO of The Education Trust John B. King Jr.—with proven track records in anti-racist governance to provide the tools and resources needed to courageously and collectively meet the challenges of our two pandemics. 

[pullquote]It is past time we, as school board leaders, exercise our collective power to make sure ALL students have the opportunities that our system has historically only given to some.[/pullquote]

Please visit this link for additional information on the summit or to view a tentative agenda.

Photo courtesy of The Education Trust.

Ethan Ashley

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 the ADL, at the CDL and for the Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs. Ethan is an advisory board member for Bard Early College New Orleans, a rigorous, credit-bearing, tuition-free college course of study in the liberal arts and sciences available to junior and senior-level students. Ethan is also a board member of the Boy Scouts of America Southeast Louisiana Council, the National Juvenile Justice Network and the New Orleans Regional Leadership Institute. He is a member of Kappa Alpha Psi, Fraternity, Inc., where he has inspired colleagues to support youth through scholarships and mentoring. Ethan was a 2014 fellow of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation’s Community Leadership Network. Ethan is a member of Franklin Avenue Baptist Church in New Orleans, LA. Born and raised in Los Angeles, California, Ethan graduated from Woodrow Wilson High School, a law magnet high school in Los Angeles, at the age of 16. Afterward, he continued his education at Howard University in Washington, D.C., where he obtained a bachelor's in political science and a Juris Doctor degree by the age of 22. Above all, Ethan is a strong advocate for equity, business development, youth justice, civil rights, and servant leadership.

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