In recent years, Bucks County school boards have gained national attention, notably for their extremely partisan intransigence. Traditionally, the leadership of school boards in Central Bucks School District leaned Republican, but this was largely unquestioned as long as the directors prioritized the district’s well-being and followed the guidance of their hired administrators. However, the dynamics changed with the onset of the pandemic, as opportunistic political forces seized the chance to exploit local community members, turning them into what one local power broker refers to as his “assets.”
Having joined the Central Bucks School Board in 2021, my intention was to contribute positively to the community and the school district I hold dear. Enthusiastic about collaborative efforts with fellow board members, administrators, teachers, and community stakeholders, I sought engagement with school directors statewide to broaden my understanding of policy and establish a network of knowledgeable individuals. My goal was to foster an environment where we could build upon and challenge each other’s ideas, providing mutual support. As I conclude my term and relinquish my role, there’s a sense of melancholy that these two years were not spent the way I had hoped and imagined. Instead, we were entangled in culture wars, squandering taxpayer money, and neglecting the urgent pleas of teachers and students. Although I did my best to resist the radical right agenda, the board is a collective – we are a team of ten and majority rules.
I am a first-generation college student. I come from a family of extremely hard working and intelligent people who did not have the opportunity to pursue higher education. My path to eventually earning a Ph.D. was not an easy one. I never had fewer than two jobs, sometimes I was in college part time, sometimes full time, and there were semesters I had to skip because of financial constraints or work responsibilities. Eventually I completed my bachelors degree with a specialization in special education. I quickly became frustrated with how the system did not support children with special needs and sought to learn more. I was accepted into a Masters, and then a Ph.D. program at the University of Pennsylvania. While in graduate school I continued to work for pay in addition to leading after-school programs in Philadelphia public schools, conducting program evaluations on various scales, and coordinating education and outreach for a rape care non-profit. Now, nearly two decades in teacher education, and extensive writing on education, pedagogy, teacher development, and educational policy, I am still learning.
Bucks County comprises 13 school districts, ranging from Palisades and Quakertown in the north to Bensalem, Bristol Township, and Bristol Borough in the south, encompassing almost 100,000 students across public and private schools. Central Bucks alone boasts 23 schools, nearly 18,000 students, and over 3,000 staff. In this influential county under the scrutiny of the nation, we have witnessed the infiltration of far-right political influences into districts like Pennridge and Central Bucks – though election results last month in both districts served as a repudiation of their reactionary politics often at odds with the mission of public education.
Through my monthly column, I aim to provide clear and concise analyses of policies, policy changes, curricular initiatives, and more. Leveraging my extensive experience in the education field, I will merge expert analysis with practical insights into the implications of decisions made at the school board level. The overarching goal is to foster a deeper understanding of the issues at hand and contribute constructively to the betterment of our education system.
I look forward to offering analysis and insight about the educational issues that are most consequential to our community. I hope you will reach out if you have particular questions or interests that you would like me to address.