Education professions continue to suffer, there’s no doubt about it. Stress is pushing district leaders away. Lack of respect for teachers is driving them out of the profession. And, according to recent research, a majority of school board members are not planning to seek reelection.
Who will be left to lead the next generation of students to a bright and successful future? Fortunately, there’s still hope.
According to a survey released this week by School Board Partners, a non-profit that aims to train and support school board members, only 38% of current school board members say they will run for reelection. This is a drastic shift in satisfaction compared to data from 2016, which indicates that more than 70% of members ran for reelection.
“The high turnover rate underlines the challenge of building a more robust infrastructure to recruit, elect, train, support, and reelect new and returning board members to undertake the difficult work of education justice,” the report reads.
Survey respondents were also asked what was driving their decision to step down. Here are the top three responses:
- I have personal responsibilities: 36%
- There are too many factors out of my control that bar me from doing my job: 34%
- I am retiring: 28%
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However, it’s not all bad news, the authors suggest. As the school board member population thins out, opportunities to increase representation and diversity present themselves.
School boards generally are not accurately representative of the public school population, the authors note. Students of color are enrolled in 54% of the nation’s public schools, yet only 30% of school board members are persons of color, according to the report.
“This looming ‘Great Resignation’ from the boards governing America’s schools presents an opportunity to recruit and train new, more diverse leaders to help push school boards to enact the policies and practices necessary to dismantle systemic racism in education,” the survey reads.
So how can school boards more accurately reflect the student population? The authors call for recruiting 50,000 board members of color over the next five election cycles, in addition to supporting them throughout their membership: “We have yet to put the people most affected by educational inequities in charge of the decisions, resources, and policies that impact their kids and communities.”