Strengthening Arizona's Future: One Education Leader at a Time
Author: Arturo Vargas, Executive Director, NALEO Educational Fund
Imagine landing a job that does not pay well, where the desired outcomes seem to constantly change. There are no resources available to get the job done and you are accountable to countless “bosses” all of whom want different things. Welcome to the life of a local school board member, a seemingly impossible job in an age of constant education reform efforts.
Yet, all across the state, hundreds of people have chosen to give back to their communities by being elected or appointed to serve on their local school board.
When we think about education though, we most often think about principals, teachers, parents, and students, as they are at the core of our education system. School board members, however, play an important role on the frontlines in the state, setting education policies and allocating resources that determine whether students receive a high-quality education that will prepare them to succeed in a 21st century economy. All too often these school board members are overlooked for the critical role they play in preparing the future workforce of Arizona and the country.
For this reason, NALEO Educational Fund is proud to partner with Helios Education Foundation and Arizona State University on a new initiative to invest in the leadership and policymaking success of Arizona education policymakers, with a particular focus on school board members, who serve districts with significant Latino student populations. This work is critical given that nearly one in three Arizonans today is Latino, with nearly one in two Arizonans expected to be Latino by 2050. As such, the state’s economic future is intrinsically tied to the success, well-being, and educational outcomes of the Latino community.
The NALEO Arizona Leadership Academy is a programmatic effort that will implement NALEO Educational Fund’s evidence-based training model for providing governance, leadership and policy content training opportunities to elected and appointed officials working on education issues throughout the state. The Academy will also include a focus on underserved and underrepresented communities in the state with the goal of improving student learning outcomes and narrowing achievement gaps from birth to college completion.
School board members who have courageously decided to serve their communities by governing our local public education systems deserve our support. We need them to succeed. Our children need them to succeed. But success does not happen by chance or luck. Success requires an investment of time and resources.
NALEO Educational Fund’s trainings will make strides on this front, providing education leaders with the opportunity to join other officials to exchange policy ideas and best practices, deepen their knowledge, and expand their networks for the benefit of the students they serve.
Investing in the success of local school board members is ultimately an investment in a stronger and brighter future for Arizona. We are excited to get to work to help these dedicated public servants, and all Arizonans, succeed.
Arturo Vargas is the Executive Director of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) Educational Fund.