School Board Recognition Month

As citizen leaders, individual school board members face complex and demanding challenges. They are
alternately described as having the most important volunteer jobs in the country and facing the
toughest challenge in elected American government. Yet school board members are just ordinary
citizens with extraordinary dedication to our nation’s public schools. All Michigan citizens should
recognize the vital contributions of these men and women and the crucial role they play in the
education of our children.

Public education is the backbone of American society, and local school boards are deeply rooted in U.S.
tradition. It’s the foundation on which our democracy was built. Today local school boards continue to
do the most important work of their communities—that of educating our youth.

Their job is to establish a vision for the education program, design a structure to achieve that vision,
ensure schools are accountable to the community and strongly advocate for continuous improvement in
student learning. The job of a school board member is tough, the hours long and the thanks few and far
between. Too often we’re quick to criticize school board members without really understanding the
complex nature of their decisions. Now’s the time to thank them for their untiring efforts.

School board members come from a variety of backgrounds, yet they share a common goal—helping
students achieve in school and life. As a state, Michigan has faced many challenges, but the key to a
brighter future is a strong public education system.

We often forget about the personal sacrifices school board members make. Board members contribute
hundreds and hundreds of hours each year leading their districts. The time spent in board meetings
represents just a small fraction of the hours school board members spend leading their districts.
Collectively, they spend more than 7,500 hours on professional development to keep abreast of the
latest trends in educational leadership, are deeply involved in community activities and spend many
hours at extracurricular events. They continually advocate for the children of our state, and in the past
year school board members made more than 1,100 passionate pleas to legislators, speaking out against
budget cuts and pushing for smart reforms.

The month of January marks the annual observance of School Board Recognition Month. This is a time
to show our appreciation and begin to better understand how local trustees work together to prepare
today’s students to be tomorrow’s leaders. In January, we join with others from throughout our district
and state to salute the men and women who provide grassroots governance of public schools.

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