Moving the Lines

By Jason H. Silverman

Dr. Silverman, I have a bone to pick with you,” were among the first words I heard after a very short-lived victory celebration following my election to the Rock Hill School Board. I didn’t realize what that truly meant.

When I was elected to my first term four years ago, I had taught about elections in American history many times during my two-plus decades as a university professor. But, until this experience, I had never been involved in one. Naively, I insisted throughout my first campaign that politics had no place in education. The education of children should be at the forefront.

Little did I know what I was getting myself into. The 2002 election signaled the completion of Rock Hill’s transition from an entirely at-large school board to one in which five of the seven trustees were elected by districts. Single member districts ensure diversity on the board, but the tendency is to represent a narrowly defined geographic area, since these are the people who elected you.

To me, a truly valuable school board member walks a fine and constantly shifting line between representing one’s constituents as well as all the children in the school district. All children matter in all decisions, not just a select few.

Almost immediately, a debate over school boundaries put my noble principles to the test.

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