Tomorrow, Tues., Feb. 9, is an election day with several races on the ballot, but I want to focus on the board of education primaries. Several area school districts, including Tulsa, Jenks, Owasso, and Union, have one or more seats open.
Typically, school board elections generate low voter turnout. But if the current pandemic has done nothing else, it shines a light on the importance of the people who make critical decisions about our school districts and what goes on there. In the past year, we’ve all seen school boards across the state grapple with important decisions such as deciding whether schools will be in-person or virtual.
It might make one think twice about skipping this particular election.
School board candidates tend to run on platforms such as increasing funding for schools, equality for all students, and high-quality education. While those are admirable goals, they’re generic and easy for everyone to agree on.
The question every voter should ask is “how will this person govern on the issues that are important to me?” Are you concerned about curriculum, transportation, building new schools, or consolidating schools?
Find out where the candidates stand on issues that are important to you. You might look for such qualities as:
- Respect for diverse points of view
- An eye toward serving the needs of all students, regardless of their abilities and backgrounds
- Commitment to the time and energy required each week for meetings, phone calls, conversations, and visits to schools
- Knowledge about district policies, guidelines, needs, challenges, and strengths
- A desire to establish a strong relationship between the district and the public it serves
- The ability to work well with a team and support group decisions
- A professional, poised demeanor and respectful behavior
School districts are complex entities. They can be one of the largest employers in a community so the decisions they make reach far and wide, affecting jobs, resources, and most importantly, the education of children. At the heart of the school board is a belief in the value of a strong public school system that serves all students.
If you want to see whether you are eligible to vote and what your ballot looks like, visit https://okvoterportal.okelections.us/.
League of Women Voters of Metropolitan Tulsa