Why I'm running for school board.

A couple of years ago, I had an issue.

My son's education was not progressing as I thought it should. Before the start of 2nd grade, his class, went from 3 teachers down to 2. Owen is a great student, but the added students in his class allowed him to sit unchallenged. His grades were fine, but his test scores went down. He'd bring home elaborate drawings of the rain forests, and of his beloved Minnesota Vikings football players. He'd tell me he drew those while he "was waiting." Worse than that, for me, was that Owen, who typically loved school, didn't want to go anymore. He didn't talk about what he learned during dinner, like he used to. For the first time in his young life, he was no longer excited about school.

I communicated with his stressed out teacher. She was busy teaching a large group of needy 2nd graders so she, quickly, assured me Owen was doing fine.  I knew otherwise. I grew more & more worried that, my boy, who had always loved learning, was going to be permanently turned off of school. Finally, when his final report card showed a significant drop in his test scores, I wrote letters to the principal and to each school board member, asking them to please reconsider the consolidation of Owen's class. 

Within a few days, I heard from the lack luster elementary school principal. He reminded me that Owen's test scores were still "well above average second graders." He also told me, I needed to expect that Owen would eventually "peak."  I was stunned and super annoyed that this "educator" was trying to convince me to accept that my child had "peaked" in second grade. I hung up pissed off & even more confused about what I should to do.  

Luckily, the very next day, Mo Grimm, a member of the school board, called concerned for me and Owen. She asked questions, she listened to my concerns, she shared her experiences as a mother, and she explained the challenges that faced the school board. She didn't make any promises or even give me many alternatives to consider, but she made me feel like my instincts about Owen were valid. She assured me she would make an informed decision based on the needs of all children. I hung up feeling heard and respected.

The conversation didn't end up getting the Owen's Class of 2020 another teacher, but it did have a lasting impact on me. I decided to attend as many school board meetings as possible, because I wanted to show support for the important job they are doing. I didn't want to be a parent who only showed up when I had something to bitch about. The conversation with Mo, and the meetings I've attended in the last few years, have given me a real sense of why genuinely concerned people need to be part of the school board.  It's not about mill rates, test scores & teacher salaries. Being part of the school board means, ultimately, directly effecting the education of children in your community. It's an important job. One to not take lightly, but one to approach with an open mind and without a hidden agenda.

On April 3rd, 2012, my name will be on the ballot for a vacant school board seat. As a member of the school board, I plan to listen and learn, just as Mo did during that conversation, almost 2 years ago. My only agenda item is this: Do what is best for children in our district.