In America, parents, teachers, and school administrators have historically had the ability to make a difference in the education system by voting for their public school board members in local and state elections.
Public school boards have a lot of say so when it comes to how school districts in every state manage daily education affairs. School boards have the power to hire the school district superintendent, set policy guidelines, and mandate the local education budget.
The right to vote for poor minorities with children attending educational institutions in urban public school districts is extremely important. Most of the communities where these children attend school are very much under-served, particularly in the area of public education. That it is why it is so vital for voters to elect school board members who have a genuine and vested interest in serving children in these under-served communities.
However, the right to vote for public school board members is drastically being wiped out left and right in a sizable number of U.S. states. This is a very serious problem that threatens the legitimacy of public school districts statewide in many U.S. regions. This problem also adversely downsizes the level of freedom voters have in our nation’s version of democracy.
According to NBC News, the legislatures of 20 U.S. states have completely taken over the public school boards of districts in a legion of U.S. cities where mostly poor, minority children attend school. This week’s NBC report was product by the Carnegie-Knight News21 program. This group is currently working on a major project concerning voting rights in America. Below is a portion of this report, which reveals some very sobering data:
More than 5.6 million people live in places where state officials took over entire districts or individual schools in the past six years, according to News21 data collected from state government agencies. About 43 percent are African-American and around 20 percent are Hispanic. On average 29.2 percent of people in those areas are living below the poverty level. The U.S. average is 15.5 percent. (NBC NEWS)
When state legislatures take on the responsibility of hiring public school board members, they completely strip local voters of a very important element of their civic duty. Government has no business interfering in the election process. The power of voters to choose the educational destiny of their school children should never be relinquished under any circumstances.
Hopefully, the 30 states that have yet to take away voting rights will not follow the lead of the 20 states that already have.