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Mythbusting: The Nonpartisan Role of the Virginia School Boards Association

In today’s society, misinformation can spread quickly, especially when it concerns organizations vital to our public education system. One such organization that has been wrongly labeled as partisan is the Virginia School Boards Association (VSBA). As VSBA Regional President for Southwest Virginia, I feel it is my responsibility to clear up misunderstandings and clarify the true essence of the association.

It is crucial to reiterate that the VSBA, with a history of over 116 years, has always taken an impartial position. In Southwest Virginia, where conservative values ​​prevail, and I myself am a member of the Republican Party, school divisions rely on the VSBA as a pillar for policy guidance, professional development, legal advice and superintendent searches. In the three years I have worked with VSBA as an elected member of the school board, I have never encountered any policy suggestions or updates that demonstrated political bias.

Additionally, it is important to note that the VSBA left the National School Boards Association (NSBA) in November 2022 due to alleged partisan ties. VSBA has never lobbied on controversial issues, such as library books in public school libraries, or ever taken a position on gender participation in athletics. These claims are completely false and irresponsible. The facts are that there are no policies that reflect any of these allegations, and there is no documentation of outspoken public support or opposition to legislation on these issues. However, there is a catalog of VSBA policy suggestions that ensure school boards comply with the law, and extensive documented evidence that the VSBA advocates for K-12 education funding, and many other issues affecting Virginia public school students during the sessions of the Virginia General Assembly. .

VSBA’s advocacy is focused on improving educational outcomes for all students and is committed to serving the students and school divisions throughout the Commonwealth. By partnering with VSBA, we have been able to advance academic goals in Southwest Virginia and cultivate professional and competent school board leaders who prioritize community well-being and adhere to the law in policymaking. We are all in this together, and the support of parents, caregivers and the community at large is crucial to our shared mission.

It is critical to dispel the misconceptions surrounding the VSBA. Instead of being guided by misinformation and division, let us all unite in a spirit of collaboration toward the shared goal of ensuring the success and better future for all Virginia students and their respective school divisions.

Jenny Nichols is regional chair of the Virginia School Boards Association Southwest Virginia and currently chairs the Washington County School Board.

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