Editorial: A reminder for school boards and teachers everywhere

The Editorial Board

Teachers play an integral role in society, present in our lives for about seven hours a day, five days a week. As such, we learn much more than math, reading and science from them; we also learn life skills like how to communicate, debate issues and think critically. Compared to the government and the school board, teachers are the ones who work the closest with students, so it makes sense for teachers to have the opportunity to provide their input for curriculum and testing issues that directly influence the children they teach.

However, it is the school board who handles most of the issues regarding student discipline, testing criteria, testing standards, banned books and most importantly, taxpayer money. Thus, the board decides what topics are voted on and where the money goes within the school district. Overall though, school boards are set up to ensure the best education for every student, or in the National School Boards Association’s (NSBA) words, “a vision of high expectations for student achievement.” This sounds like a goal that teachers would have in mind, which begs the question: what if teachers joined the school board?  However, the answer is not that simple.

According to the Texas Education Agency (TEA), a public school teacher cannot be on the board unless they quit their teaching position. This rule, though it sounds discriminatory upon first glance, is actually very reasonable considering that the board handles a lot of private information, including teacher salaries. It would be a conflict of interest for an educator to be able to make decisions about their compatriots’ pay. Also, there is the issue of whether the teacher would consistently act in the best interests of all students without bias because they would have control over their own pay and treatment.

So, this is a reminder from the students to school boards across the nation: if teachers cannot make decisions on the board, please continue giving them many opportunities to advise and provide their expertise. This way, teachers can help form educational policy that is beneficial to their students, without dealing with any issues involving a conflict of interest.

And teachers: if you have not already, form committees among yourselves and propose ideas and provide information, so the school board can make informed decisions.

If school boards and teachers everywhere can work together instead of being at odds and both parties keeping their minds open, students can achieve even greater things and become curious, well-rounded and well-informed adults — which is exactly what the school board aims for in the first place.