“Children don’t care about Republican or Democrat” – Another Reason That School Board Elections Should Never Be Partisan

The above quote was stated by Malishai Woodbury, the new Chairperson of the Winston-Salem / Forsyth County School System (WSFCS). She is the first African-American female to ever hold the post.

Barbara Burke was elected Vice-Chair. She is also African-American.

Their election by the new all-female school board this past Thursday has highlighted yet another reason why local school board elections should not be partisan.

On the front page of the Winston-Salem Journal is a report about the reactions to the first board meeting in which two actual educators were elected to the leadership positions for the new term.

They were the only two people with an education background and perhaps have the best understanding of what happens behind the scenes of public education. Please take the time to read it – “After bipartisan vote for new school board chairwoman, vice chairwoman, two Republican members receive backlash.”


Two Republican members of the new board crossed party lines to help elect Woodbury and Burke and the vitriol that they have faced from fellow “party” members has been ruthless, uncalled for, and rather shameful. Just follow some of the Facebook threads in local circles.

It’s the kind of cyber-bullying that we as a society seem to look down upon but still engage in because it makes us feel vindicated. It’s the kind of “discussion” that is worthy of a deleted scene in the sequel to Mean Girls.

What Lida Calvert-Hayes and Leah Crowley did was what they thought best for students and communities. What they have helped expose in at least our school system is that a devotion to party lines is more important than what public schools need.

And it’s a shame that two veteran educators are not thought of as having the ability to help lead our schools because of inexperience on the board or for their party affiliation.

Ironically, we have had first time members be elected ( and sometimes never-elected but appointed midterm) as leaders of the board who never were in the classroom.

And our students are watching it.

And learning from it.

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