Even if you don’t have children in school, you are probably aware that education has recently been facing unforeseen challenges. Schools are struggling to combat learning loss and to ensure equity in a world that is often inequitable. Learning standards and curricula have become points of contention—books are being banned, and histories are being challenged. Educators have increasing amounts of responsibilities placed on them, and fewer people are choosing to pursue careers in education. 

The future of education can seem daunting, and you might feel powerless to help. However, there is an easy way to have a serious impact on the success of education in Delaware: voting in your school board election on Tuesday, May 14. 

The way our schools operate is guided by policy, and those policies aren’t determined by principals or even superintendents; they are determined by school boards. School boards are empowered to make decisions that impact all aspects of public education: curriculum, discipline, strategic planning, and budget priorities, just to name a few. 

School board members may consider the opinions of administrators, teachers, and other stakeholders, but their votes are the deciding factors.  

Not only should we use our votes to elect school board members who will spend our tax dollars intelligently, but we should also realize the immense impact our school boards have on the success of our schools and the future of our community. 

School boards determine policies about inclusion and equity. They have the power to adopt initiatives that foster welcoming and inclusive school climates, thereby cultivating a larger community of inclusion and compassion from which all Delawareans would benefit. 

School boards approve changes to curricula and instructional frameworks, directly influencing the academic growth of Delaware’s students. Even if you do not have children in school, these choices will have an impact on you. They directly influence how many skilled employees and informed adults we have in our community.  

Your vote in a school board election can determine how much freedom educators have in making instructional decisions and how schools address achievement gaps among different demographics. Elected members can determine whether a book is banned, whether schools will affirm students’ genders, and whether a district implements restorative justice to address behavior challenges. 

School boards are also responsible for both hiring and evaluating the district’s superintendent, who is charged with implementing the board’s policies. It is the board who decides whether to promote internally or to have an open hiring process for a new superintendent. It is the board who decides whether the superintendent has a formal evaluation each year (and in Delaware, many superintendents don’t), or if they just have one when their contract is up for renewal. 

Despite the importance of school boards, and the immense impact they can have on our community, these elections have shockingly low voter turnout. In 2023, school board elections had voter turnout ranging from 2.25% in Laurel to 10.03% in Delmar. The results of these elections were tight; Appoquinimink’s election was decided by 3 votes. 

These results confirm how important your vote is: your vote could be the one that changes who sits on your school board. It could be the one that determines whether you have a school board member who communicates with their constituents, who carefully considers the input of community members, who uses all available data to make the decisions. 

Make a plan to vote and have your voice be heard on Tuesday, May 14 by visiting VoteDelaware.org