Mama Bunkfish

Navigating marriage, motherhood, and mental illness on Jesus, caffeine, and naps!

That Time I Ran for School Board

I can’t remember the final push, but I think it was not getting a full-time job I applied for. I’d decided that if I got the job, I wouldn’t have time to be on the school board. When I didn’t get it, I decided to take the plunge. It’s something that several people over the years have told me I should do. I’d always blown it off because there’s a certain level of decorum a politician has to have that I don’t. However, I had what we in the black church call “The Unction” – a feeling/craving in our gut that compels us to do something about a situation. The situation for me was/is public education, and I hoped being on the school board in my district would allow me to have an impact.

I lost. Honestly, I was angry, surprised, and disappointed in the loss. I went into the race saying that the “win” would be just doing it. However, losing hit me harder than I thought. I’m 100% certain that I was the most qualified person who ran for my spot. I have the knowledge, plans, and the ability to execute them. What I didn’t have was any knowledge about what it means to run for political office. What I didn’t have was the connections or, honestly, the stamina to meet as many folks in my district as possible. What I didn’t have was a palatable history of not speaking up on matters regarding race or being quiet when something or someone hurt me. In the end, it probably hurt me.

This story doesn’t have a sad ending, though. While I didn’t win, and I’m still working through what that means about me, I did gain a new group of friends and family who believed and supported me. I did force people to discuss what it means to serve on the school board and who should be there. I engaged folks in conversations as myself and showed up fully as myself to every event. I think I even changed the narrative of what it means to be a political candidate in my city.

Most importantly, in the aftermath, I realized that I’m not fond of the political scene that comes with school boards. When dealing with children, who are ultimately the ones with the most to lose, there has to be a certain level of compassion, emotion, and understanding of their needs to get this work done. Unfortunately, for too many, this work is about making a name for themselves, checking a box, or elevating a resume. That’s not me. I’ve never been the person who enters a job or position of service with the hopes that I’ll be set up for something “better” later. I had and will always have one goal in mind – making high-quality education accessible to every child.

Several people have asked me if I’ll run again and have told me several times that I need to run again because I have so much to offer. I’m sure that’s true, but the school board most likely isn’t where those offerings will surface, and that’s okay. I don’t know what’s next, but I do know that I’ll keep doing what I’ve been doing – having the tough conversations in private to make sure that my kids, and ultimately all kids, get the education they deserve. I’ll also keep working to change the landscape of my city so that the conversation isn’t, “Oh no! She’s the activist type” and becomes, “Yes! She’s the activist type, and that’s what we need.” I don’t know what it’ll lead to, but wherever I end up is where I should be.

Until next time…

Corliss B.

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