OPINION: Turning school boards into partisan battlegrounds benefits no one

By Ethan Ashley and Carrie Douglass

Our nation’s school boards are in crisis. Between a flurry of nationalized partisan fights and a systemic lack of professionalization for school board members, boards across the country are poorly equipped to handle today’s challenges. Communities need to set higher expectations for school boards while equipping those elected to meet them, according to two veteran board members.

Now, on top of all that schools boards are mandated to do, we’re fighting a culture war and making frontline health and safety decisions in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Despite playing such an outsized role in people’s lives, school boards operate with fewer resources than any other elected position, on average. As a result, school boards don’t reflect the students they serve, often ending up substantially whiter, older, wealthier and more male than their constituents. And now, we are being co-opted to fight cultural and political wars that are distracting us from our primary job: ensuring every student under our care receives a free, equal and high-quality education.

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