Your vote for state and local school board members in the upcoming weeks is important.
Please get to know who wants to represent you
Find out if they will focus on student success and wellbeing
Ask if they have the skills to carefully consider the attention and time they give political issues that may unduly distract from the board's focus
We need each other; our fates and futures as neighborhoods and communities are inextricably linked despite perceived differences. All of us, students, families, teachers, principals, district leaders, and the school board must work together in courageous, compassionate, empathetic, smart, civil, and strategic ways to create the kinds of learning experiences and outcomes all of our children and youth deserve.
This week, Salt Lake Tribune Columnist Robert Gehrke wrote that voters need to pay attention to down-ticket races, calling out school board races:
"We run the risk in this state of having our school system taken over by the intensely focused well organized culture warriors like Natalie Cline and Utah Parents United. We don't need any more of them on the school board."
Culture warriors participate in culture wars. In 1991, James Hunter a young scholar at the University of Virginia wrote a book called "Culture Wars". He did not invent the term, but his book pushed the idea into public conversation. Calling on all Americans to start talking and perhaps, through understanding, defuse some of the emerging tensions was his intent.
Instead, a little over 30 years later, Hunter sees America as having doubled down on the "war" part saying:
"Democracy, in my view, is an agreement that we will not kill each other over our differences, but instead we'll talk through those differences, and part of what's troubling is that I'm beginning to see signs of justification for violence."
We have an obligation to our children and youth and to ourselves to be community builders, to not turn away from difficult conversations and hard decisions. Teaching and modeling for our students how to authentically connect across differences, and how to stay at the table together in the face of uncertain or complex dynamics, is critical for our collective future. Make sure your vote goes to someone who will avoid unnecessary distractions and put Utah students first.