Voting in Tomorrow’s School Board Elections is What’s Most Important

May 7th, 2012

Category: News, Policy and Practice

Delaware’s school board elections scheduled for tomorrow, Tuesday, May 8, have generated a lot more attention than in the past and my hope is that a lot more people go to the polls and vote (10am-8pm).   

Our foundation’s mission is to help Delaware create world-class schools.  To that end, we worked with hundreds of parents, teachers, and community leaders to create the Vision 2015 plan that promotes higher standards, stronger early childhood education, increased innovation, high quality teachers and school leaders, and fair funding (see  As important, we deeply support the academic goals that all of the state’s key stakeholders signed off on in Delaware’s Race to the Top plan, for example to dramatically increase our college going rates from 70% to 90%. 

To reach these goals will be a stretch; we aren’t going to get there by continuing to do what we have always done.  Part of this new work will require more people stepping up and getting involved in our school board races.  These boards manage upwards of a quarter of a billion dollars in our larger districts, they hire the superintendent, approve all major contracts, and are ultimately responsible for the academic gains of the students in their care.  We can all agree that our children are our greatest resource, but, unfortunately, often less than 5% of eligible voters make it to the polls for school board races.  

In addition to investing about $2-3M per year in high-impact training for teachers, principals and parents, Rodel invests in building public will to encourage the community to vote in school board elections.  We have invested in online content on our website, full-page ads in print media, an informational video on Content Delaware, and the educational efforts of Voices 4 Delaware Education, all geared to getting out the vote.  Like hundreds of other cause-related nonprofits, Voices has two arms: an education arm and an advocacy arm.  Our support goes solely to the 501(c)(3) education arm.  We have not, and will not, invest in targeted advocacy efforts on behalf of political candidates in any election, including local school board races. 

Change is uncomfortable.  Public engagement and debate is a foundation of our democracy.  I realize that there is serious and thoughtful debate going on in this state, and this nation, about how best to educate our children, but for our part once the dust settles on Wednesday morning, my team and I will do our best to support whoever wins and continue to keep our eye on the student results we all promised.  My hope is that as voters go to the polls on Tuesday they understand the issues and will pull the lever for the person they believe can produce the best educational experience for our children.

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Paul Herdman



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