Elizabeth Andersen: Time to put kids first in education, not party politics

When I ran to serve District 2 on the Duval County School Board in 2018, I was motivated by three overriding issues:

  1. To ensure our children are safe and protected while in our schools.

  2. To make sure our children's developmental and emotional needs are met.

  3. To improve the academic success of every student.

As a licensed mental health counselor and former high school teacher, I believe having this perspective is essential on our school board. The board has worked tirelessly to put children at the forefront of every discussion and decision. Still, we continue to hear people peddling inaccuracies that our schools are failing and that we don't care about our students and their families.

I believe that our public schools are a cornerstone of American democracy, that our children need to be educated so that they can reach their full potential as industrious, engaged and responsible citizens and so that together we can continue to strive toward a more perfect union. Unfortunately, the misinformation we hear during public comments at our school board meetings is fueling mistrust and chaos.

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The propaganda and dangerous rhetoric are divisive and toxic for our community. I am deeply disturbed that there are people in our community who want to inject party politics into our board decisions and that they are willing to use our children as political pawns.

The truth is, despite setbacks due to a global pandemic, our children have — by and large — been able to maintain academic progress. Yet, our passionate teachers are under attack. Wedges are being driven between the educators who love and respect our children and the families they seek to serve and support.

We must not lose sight of our commitment to the future of our communities and our children. The young people look to us to be models, a compass in how to navigate this ever-changing world. It is incumbent upon us to set an example that shows that people matter more than politics.


If children and education are important to you, I invite you to get informed. Duval County Public Schools is a fraction of a percent away from being an "A" rated district. We have no “F” schools; we teach the Florida BEST standards set forth by the Florida Department of Education. The board, teachers and staff work hard to provide safe and welcoming environments for every child, every day, regardless of race, religion, ability, gender or zip code.

The school board also works hard to meet obstacles head-on with honesty and transparency. While there is always room to grow and improve, we cannot be distracted by this disinformation campaign. Adults squabbling over ideological and cultural battles distract us from doing the work of educating children. Let’s put our kids first, not party politics.

Vote for school board candidates during the primary election on Aug 23. Visit Andersen4DCPS.com to learn more.

Elizabeth Andersen, Duval County School Board District 2 member and candidate

This guest column is the opinion of the author and does not necessarily represent the views of the Times-Union. We welcome a diversity of opinions.

This article originally appeared on Florida Times-Union: Elizabeth Andersen: Time to put kids first, not party politics