We See The Symptom, But What’s At Its Root?

December 2, 2021

Our Chief of Business Development, Kathryn York, offers insights from her unique perspective as parent, elected official and political consultant on the current climate between parents and school board members.

The weekend after the Virginia governor’s election, I read an op-ed in the New York Times about death threats directed at school board members over decisions they made about vaccine mandates, masking, and Critical Race Theory (CRT). As a parent, School Board member, and Democratic political consultant, the piece pushed me to think about why we’re seeing the kind of behavior we are from parents across the country.

Unlike the folks in the op-ed, I’m not getting death threats and am not witnessing a mass parent uprising. To the contrary, we suffer from apathy in our school district. Both are symptoms of the same problem. The trend I see from the op-ed, my experience on the local School Board, and the recent election is one thing: parents feel left out.   

That’s true of the much of the electorate when it comes to politics and policymaking. Too many people don’t feel welcomed to the conversation. They see important public policy decisions made behind closed doors and without them. In a world where social media tells us we are connected and the media pushes transparency, the juxtaposition of feeling shut out of the political process lends to deep mistrust and division. And as a parent, that feeling is magnified because those decisions don’t just impact me, they impact my child.

My consistent question to our Board members and district leaders alike is: How are we working to actively include parents and invite them into the process with fidelity and dignity?

Democrats would do well to ask that question, too.  As you go through your week, I invite you to consider with me: how do we do that?

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If you want to hear more about Kathryn’s insights as a parent, elected official, and Democratic strategist, or welcome her to the team yourself, feel free to send her an email at kathryn@chismstrategies.com .

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