While we spend a lot time, money, and bandwidth worrying about Congress and the next president, we underestimate the enormous amount of control school boards have over our lives and the education of our children. In Ohio, we have an organization called Ohioans for Educational Freedom that focuses on informing people about education issues. They have a PAC that works to elect conservative state school board candidates and was integral in electing several in the last election. In the 2010 State Board of Education election, a conservative board member was elected by a mere 2300 votes out of 239,000 cast in her district. The margin between the top two candidates — the second place candidate was heavily funded by the unions — was 1 percent. The Ohioans for Educational Freedom website received nearly 2 million hits during that election season, mobilizing homeschoolers and other supporters of school choice to elect a candidate who supported their educational philosophy by educating them about the views of the candidates in that district.
We need more focused groups like Ohioans for Educational Freedom and we need to expand their reach. They need our financial support and grassroots help to elect good candidates who support conservative principles in education.
As a voter, it’s imperative that you learn about the candidates who will rule over your family from these state and local boards and that you choose wisely on election day. If you don’t have a group you trust that vets the candidates, get their phone numbers from your local board of elections and call them. It can be completely awkward — I’ve done it — but afterward you will have a better understanding of where they stand on the issues that are important to you. In the process, you will have the opportunity to voice your opinions and begin to build a relationship with the potential new board member. And you may be surprised to find a candidate who shares your views and welcomes your input and help in his election and afterward, during his term in office.
Ultimately, school board elections, while often ignored and disregarded, will be among the most important you will see on your ballot on Tuesday. Don’t waste your franchise by voting present.