Jan 11, 2022 - Politics & Policy

More Latino kids, few Latino school board members

Latino parents at Burroughs Elementary school in Minneapolis during a school board meeting. Photo: Marlin Levison/Star Tribune via Getty Images
Latino parents at Burroughs Elementary school in Minneapolis during a school board meeting. Photo: Marlin Levison/Star Tribune via Getty Images

Roughly 86% of school board members say they had no Latino colleagues on their board last year, according to a new EdWeek Research Center survey of more than 1,500 school board members.

Why it matters: The small number of Latino school board members highlights the lack of Hispanic political power at local levels even as the number of Latinos in public schools grows.

Between fall 2009 and fall 2018, the percentage of public school students who were Hispanic increased from 22% to 27%, the latest federal data shows.

  • But it's much higher in the Southwest. Hispanic students are 62% of New Mexico's K-12 schools; 55% in California; 52% in Texas; 47% in Arizona; and 44% in Nevada, according to the Pew Research Center.

What they're saying: “It’s one of the most important locally elected positions that we have in this country, our school boards,” Stephanie Parra, a board member of the Phoenix Union High School District, told EdWeek.

  • “We are making decisions about the future of our country every single day.”

The big picture: The lack of Latino school board members at a time when the Latino student population is increasing puts Hispanics at a disadvantage in voicing concerns about school policies, Parra said.

  • Conservative white parents in some states are demanding school boards remove some Latino-themed books from school libraries.

Don't forget: A 2018 survey by the National School Boards Association found that only 3% of school board members were Hispanic compared to 78% who were white and 10% who were Black.

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