Why Every Voter Should Care about School Board ElectionsSeptember 15, 2011
I don’t have children, school age or otherwise, but I deeply care about the outcomes of my local and state school board elections. You should, too. Here’s why:
- Property values are higher in areas with strong schools.
- School systems with strong academic and extracurricular programs keep students busy, meaning less crime is committed by school-age youngsters.
- Strong school systems produce an educated workforce that, in turn, provides much-needed tax revenue for infrastructure improvements and a vast array of public services from which all voters benefit.
- Strong school systems produce an educated electorate that might think more deeply before casting ballots.
Of course, if you have school-age children or grandchildren, you want a strong public school system to make them college ready or job ready.
A huge issue in school board elections that affects all voters is school vouchers — sometimes called option certificates, choice scholarships, and other obfuscating names. The shunting of public money into nonpublic education via vouchers, certificates, scholarships, or tax credits means that your tax dollars could be supporting private schools that might not fully comply with civil rights laws and might not respect the separation of church and state. Sometimes your local tax dollars even go outside of your county or parish to support private schools in other districts! So it behooves all voters to query their local and state school board candidates about their positions on the use of public funds for nonpublic education.
AAUW supports a strong system of public education that promotes gender fairness, equity, and diversity. We seek adequate and equitable funding for quality public education for all students. We oppose the use of public funds for nonpublic elementary and secondary education and for charter schools that do not adhere to the same civil rights and accountability standards that are required of public schools. And we seek to protect programs that meet the needs of girls and women in elementary and secondary education, including vigorous enforcement of Title IX and all other civil rights laws pertaining to education.
I believe in the power of one vote and that your vote makes a difference. Arm yourself with knowledge before you cast your school board ballots by organizing or attending candidate forums. And for your information, AAUW branches that have 501(c)(4) tax status can produce and distribute voter guides outlining candidate positions on key issues affecting educational equity for girls in your school district, though you cannot endorse candidates in partisan elections. For information on how you or your branch can make an impact in local and state school board elections, please contact our highly knowledgeable AAUW voter education staff at email@example.com. You’ll also find a wealth of education and turnout resources on our advocacy web page.
This post was written by AAUW Director-at-Large Amy Blackwell.