By Ralph Kerr
School administrators and school boards across the region are currently dealing with a myriad of difficult and complex issues. These range from student discipline issues such as hazing and forced fainting or student behavior at athletic contests, to policy issues such as sports teams playing contests on Sunday, curriculum issues such as the rights of teacher to insert items into the curriculum that are of concern to them but may not be in the district curriculum outline, to continuing to deal with the major impact of the proposed cuts in State Aid to education.
Anyone of these issues demands a thorough and thoughtful response. Some of them have moral and ethical implications as well. Unfortunately some boards do not allow any members who bring a strong Judeo-Christian belief system to the table. As a result, in some cases issues are decided in ways that fail to include appropriate and wholesome moral and ethical foundations. Such responses can have a negative impact on the communities which the school district serves. Unfortunately for many people of faith it has been our pattern to criticize from the sidelines rather than step up to the responsibilities of board service and be counted.
The Board of Education of districts dealing with any of the previously mentioned issues already has a full plate of responsibilities. These issues simply add to that plate. There is a way you can help.
The school board elections occur in May each year. For anyone who has thought about running for their school board in the past or are thinking about it now, this is the time to get started. Here are some suggestions for potential board candidates to act on.
- Research who the current board of education members are in your school district. Not only their names but what qualities and interests do they bring to the board? The Teaching and Learning Institute (TLI) has developed a form that will help you with this research. The form is available by requesting it at the Contact Us link on our website, whyrun.org
- Once you have completed your research, analyze the strengths and weaknesses of the current board, including their beliefs system.
- Consider whether you or someone you know could contribute positively to the makeup of the board. This consideration should be based on your knowledge of the current board members strengths and weaknesses and the strengths you could bring to the table.
- Attend a Board of Education meeting. The website of the district or the District Clerk will provide this information.
- Listen to the discussion at the Board meeting to begin to understand the issues, challenges and opportunities that are being dealt with by the Board.
- Talk with friends and neighbors about your interest in running for the Board.
- Examine your motives for thinking about running for the Board and pray earnestly as you consider this major decision. Do you desire to serve God and all the children and taxpayers of the district or do you have some personal issue that is driving you? Board candidates who are driven by some personal issue only generally do not make good board members. Believers who are confident of God’s direction in this important decision are candidates who can make a difference and board members who God uses mightily.
- Assuming you receive affirmation of your decision from God, positive feedback from friends and neighbors and your motives for running are appropriate, contact the District Clerk to ask for a candidate’s packet.
- Contact TLI for additional information and support.
Service on a school board is an awesome responsibility. Seek that responsibility prayerfully and carefully!
Dr. Ralph Kerr is the President of Teaching and Learning Institute. If you would like more information about the Teaching and Learning Institute please contact us at www.whyrun.org or call us at 585-567-2080.