Last fall, I was recruited to run for school board by teachers and students who were frustrated by the intractability of the Nevada Joint Union High School Board of Trustees.
I had heard about incidents of racism and bullying in our schools and about the district’s failure to equitably serve students, teachers, and the school community. Then board members blocked a much-needed, state-mandated plan simply because the proposal used the word “equity.”
That’s when I made my decision.
I ran a grassroots campaign in partnership with two other pro-change candidates. We knocked on doors and explained that our primary interest was the students, not a political agenda.
One of the most heartening campaign events for me was a listening session that drew more than 50 young people. Their concerns poured out.
One LGBTQ+ student spoke eloquently about his experience facing mistreatment in school and the school leadership’s unwillingness to help. An Asian girl complained about frequent racist remarks. Black and Pacific Islander students shared stories of being taunted about nooses and lynching. And bullies had thrown rocks at gay students. I could not understand why administrators were ignoring students’ cries for help.
I also received an important message from voters during the campaign: They understood the issues and the need for change. No matter what their political beliefs were, they often said, “We support you, because you were a teacher. You know what our kids need.” All teachers should understand that, at a time when loud voices suggest otherwise, the public values what teachers do.
I was elected with a solid 57 percent of the vote alongside the two candidates I ran with. Now like-minded people control the board, and we are ready to move the district forward.
We want to resolve the board’s contentious atmosphere and encourage healthy debate. We are pushing for instruction that provides a complete and accurate account of history. And we want to have a plan for improving school facilities.
We want to do what is best for our students. That’s why we all became educators in the first place.