I went to the courthouse and got my packet, I drove around and got signatures for my petition, and turned it all in by the deadline. Then I placed all my yard signs, and walked door to door with some pamphlets I'd made. Come election day, I easily won a seat on the school board. I watched the election results come in on the local news that evening--it was all very exciting. But I knew I would win. There was really never any question about it because I ran unopposed. Not enough candidates ran to fill the seats that were open. Shortly after I was sworn in, the board appointed an individual to fill that last remaining empty seat.
I went to the state school board meeting a couple months ago in Chicago--I was there four days. There was a lot of discussion about finding good school board members. Apparently, my district isn't the only one falling short on getting candidates to run for the school board. There was a lot of discussion about how many open seats there were, and how many were being appointed rather than elected. And how people just don't get involved anymore.
I'm surprised by that. As I said, I live within a mile of the house I grew up in, and I know the area well--I thought. As much talk as goes on about the schools--what they should do, what they shouldn't do, what they're doing well, what they need to improve on--I would have thought candidates would be lined up around the block to run for those seats. That's just not the case. And keep in mind, this is in a community where the overwhelming pubic opinion is that our schools are really great. And they are!
I got to tell you--serving on the school board isn't that much fun. School board members work very hard for free--not that much different from being the Worshipful Master of a Masonic Lodge now that I think about it. The title "school board member" won't even get me a cup of coffee at the local gas station. I spent three evenings a couple weeks ago reading proposed changes to policy and procedure. But I'll tell you what--I consider serving on that school board as one of the most important things I do, and I take my role very seriously. Seriously enough that I'll spend three evening reading policy, and more time on top of that trying to keep up with what's going on with school related legislation at our state capital, and more time trying to learn all the things a school board member has to know to be good at the job.
If you care about an issue, then get involved. It's not just school boards that are having trouble finding qualified candidates to fill important leadership positions. The vitriolic state of our politics being what they are today, fewer and fewer qualified people are willing to get into leadership roles. We wind up with candidates that should never serve in public office being elected to positions they are poorly suited for. Sadly, there's never been a greater need for strong and competent leadership.
So before you complain about something, ask yourself first if there's something you could do about it. And if there is, then by all means raise your hand and step forward! You skills, your knowledge, and your experience are greatly needed!
~Todd E. Creason