School board members discuss benefits of diverse school leadership
Monday, March 11, 2019
Oregon School Board Members of Color Caucus Treasurer Anthony Medina, (from left) Vice-President Donna Tyner, Secretary Helen Ying and President Bill Graupp addressed the City Club of Portland on Friday. (Photo by Jake Arnold, OSBA)
“When we walk in the room, it changes the conversation,” Helen Ying told a City Club of Portland audience Friday.
Oregon School Board Members of Color Caucus officers held a Friday Forum conversation about why schools need diverse leadership. They talked of the importance of having more voices with different experiences and backgrounds to make education decisions that benefit all students.
The forum in downtown Portland focused on the Get on Board campaign, reminding the audience that there is time for school board candidates to register for the May election before the March 21 deadline.
Caucus President Bill Graupp (North Marion School Board), Vice-President Donna Tyner (Beaverton School Board), Secretary Ying (Multnomah ESD Board) and Treasurer Anthony Medina (Woodburn School Board) shared their experiences as minorities both in schools and in school leadership.
Tyner said that as school board members they provide governance but they can also change a district’s direction by questioning choices in curriculum and programs.
“The biggest thing we can do to move the dial is to look at our policies and see what we can do to make them more inclusive,” Tyner said.
OSBA’s Oregon School Board Members of Color Caucus was started in 2016 to promote quality education for Oregon students with an emphasis on the unique needs of students of color. The caucus is working to increase the number and abilities of school board members of color so that school boards more fully represent their communities.
Ying said that when she worked at Cleveland High School, she received a note from an Asian student who said she felt more like she belonged just from seeing Ying in the building.
Graupp emphasized that it was important for students of color to see models of success and leadership in their community to lift up their aspirations.
Medina said that when he was elected in 2017, Woodburn became the first elected majority Latino school board in Oregon. He said having a school board that reflected the community helped increase community engagement.
“We need to involve more members of our community … because it’s really important to make sure all voices are heard,” Tyner said.