Yesterday I was sworn in as a school board member—the culmination of four months of campaigning. It’s the second time I’ve sworn to defend/uphold the constitution of the United States (I worked for the census in 2020), which feels very strange.
I never thought I would run for any kind of office. I’m a faithful voter – spring and fall elections, midterms, primaries, etc., but I’m often frustrated by the way our polarized political system seems to stymie progress at every turn. I don’t know if being a politician (even in a non-partisan office) is going to make me feel much better about the situation. I haven’t even attended a meeting yet, and I’ve already had conversations about the limits of the school board’s ability to do a few things that feel very important right now.
I ran because I loved being in the classroom and because I want my students (future teachers) and their students (middle- and high-schoolers) to love being in the classroom. I left teaching because administrative restrictions and lack of support wore me down while I drew on every personal resource available to me to boost my students and close achievement gaps. That was ten years ago, and I fear the situation has only become more dire. I wonder how long anyone can realistically stay in the profession as it’s currently structured (and so much respect and gratitude to those who have/can).
I was thinking about that last semester when I was teaching Field 1 – the first of three field experiences my students have. I was thinking, ”What hope can I give students as they pursue their passion to teach while social media is full of disrespect and disdain for teachers?” I’m not sure I have a good answer. I settled on telling them that times of crisis are often opportunities for advocacy. When it seems like everything is on fire, it might be a good time to imagine what could rise from the ashes. I believe that. But I also wonder how to get a shared vision of a more equitable, inclusive, and sustainable system put in place.
I’ll keep you posted.