We Need More Women on School Boards
Conquering The Second Shift, the Learning Curve, and Finances
As a parent with two kids, with one with special needs, a husband with an intense job, and my own work commitments, I know how to juggle. On a typical week, I’m driving Ian to speech therapy, figuring out the dinner menu, and scheduling interviews for an article. Sometimes at the same time.
This month, things became even crazier because I’m leaving journalism and running for political office. And at the same time, I’m transitioning Ian to the adult disability system. It’s been two weeks of paperwork and new lingo. My brain hurts.
The next step for all the women, who became politicized due to school closures during Covid, is running for office. While women have significant skills and knowledge that be utilized in campaigns, they must learn how to handle Second Shift responsibilities, conquer the legal learning curve, and raise money. It’s all doable though. I am doing it.
Running for the school board — an unpaid, time-intensive commitment — requires a surprising amount of education about state campaign finance laws and county election laws. I have a PhD in political science, but reading about these procedures is quite different from actually doing these activities. I like learning new things, so that’s okay.
It’s been fun applying knowledge from previous careers into the campaign process. I know social media, so I made a newsletter and a campaign Facebook page. My experience printing promotional material for my weekend book business will come in handy when we start printing out promotional material. I know a lot of people from being the type of mom who goes to meetings and hangs out afterwards for a drink; friends are being enlisted to help in various ways.
Last night, one friend, who is a professional photographer, took pictures of us crossing our arms and looking tough and cute at the same time. We’ll do more pictures next week in an outdoor setting.
To get ready for these pictures, I dusted off my work clothes. Literally dusted off. Even before Covid, I worked in my home office and mostly did interviews over the phone. The few times that I did face-to-face interviews or went conferences totally ended during Covid. Since 2000, my work attire has been running clothes or jeans. I need to upgrade.
Some of my clothes needed more serious help than a little dusting. So, I ran to the mall and grabbed a $50 blazer from H and M. Ann Taylor is having a Memorial Day sale, so I picked up some appropriate tops. I bought makeup and spent an hour trying to make my hair look straight and professional. I hope I’m looking more like Shiv than like Jerry, but it’s hard to be a woman over 50.
I set up a special campaign bank account. I loaned myself $1,000 for the campaign, which is actually much less than others who have run for local office. One woman spent $11,000 of her own money to run for an unpaid local position, which she spent on Facebook ads and mailers. Yeah, we’re not doing those things.
To make time for these new work responsibilities, I need to unload some of my mom responsibilities. The dudes will have to hunt-and-gather their own dinners. Last night, I set them up with everything to make air fryer chicken thighs, and they did it. Small victory.
Other responsibilities I can’t drop. I spent two years getting Ian enrolled in the state system for disabilities. With autism and epilepsy, he’ll always need some help even if he finishes college and gets his dream job fixing computers. Now that he’s 21, the state support system kicks in. And I was very surprised to learn this week that I have to complete MORE paperwork and learn MORE lingo. I thought I crossed the finish line with that nonsense, but not quite yet.
The good news is that the benefits appear to be generous here in New Jersey. The bad news is that this process is so horrific that only Type A mothers like me can ever figure it all out. It’s totally tragic.
I’m working through all these work and personal challenges. I graduated from a desk covered with loose paperwork to a desk covered with manila folders. A step in the right direction.
I am really excited to get involved in schools, not as an objective outsider or a teacher with little power, but as someone who can make some real changes. I've been involved with education policy for 35 years, so I have lots of ideas.
This week, I’ve seen first hand hand the barriers that keep more women entering politics —the standard Second Shift stuff, the legal and procedural learning curve, and finances can all conspire to keep women on the sidelines. These hurdles can be jumped — I did it — but I would like things to be smoother, so we can get more women into political offices at the local and national levels.
New York City is hitting a lot of obstacles trying to implement The Science of Reading curriculum in their schools. Teachers, principals, and the union are protesting the new system.
Young children who missed getting identified for special needs during COVID might never get the needed help.
Okay, I’m done for the week. Once I hit send on this newsletter, I’m going to go for a run and enjoy the sunny day. We have dinner at a friends’ house tonight, an anniversary dinner on Saturday. I plan on recovering from this crazy week with evening plans with friends and family, a 5K race in town, and maybe some book work if I feel inspired.
Have a GREAT Memorial Day weekend, all!