On February 15, 2023, FAIR in Education Fellow Tanya Simons spoke to Western Wisconsin Chapter members and guests about “How to Run for School Board”. Guests included one person currently running for a school board position and one contemplating running in next year’s school board elections. Her presentation was most insightful.
In 2018, Ms. Simons first ran as a candidate for a School Board Directors position in the ISD279 school district (the fifth largest school district in Minnesota serving a diverse community), winning her first term that ended December 31, 2022. On November 8, 2022, she was re-elected to her position on the Board.
She trains school board members across the country on the topics of pro-human school board leadership, how to run for school board, and parent and stakeholder engagement. She also trains parents in how to engage their school board, advocate for their children, and drive positive change in their school districts.
Beginning the evening’s events, Co-Chapter Leader Michelle Reavis provided a brief introduction about FAIR, its commitment to pro-human values and its interest in promoting a pro-human approach to participating in school board elections. Ms. Simons stated that “Running for school board is an exciting way to engage and lead positive change for your entire community.” Her presentation then covered key issues in education, campaign messaging, and the key elements of a strong campaign, beginning with a detailed approach to deciding even if to run. She described various methods and platform options, and the most effective ways to campaign to successfully reach out to voters.
She candidly emphasized that, in today’s political climate, running for school board is not an easy undertaking. Doing so comes with significant challenges as well as great rewards, and also has an impact not only on the candidate but on the candidate’s family as well. Among her key points were that one must know his/her goals for running, be completely authentic and stay true to one’s principles, be highly committed, and strive to understand the interests and concerns of the students, parents, teachers, and community at large.
Her comments were followed by an engaging question and answer session.