By Kira Barrett
Megan Crawford, who is in her fourth year teaching 6th-grade math and science in Redondo, Calif., also teaches an elective in geography, coordinates the gifted and talented program, and founded her school’s cheer squad. Did we mention she is working on a master’s degree in public administration at the University of Southern California? One other thing: This ambitious young educator is also running for a seat on the Palos Verdes Peninsula Unified School District board.
She recently spoke to EducationVotes.org about her decision to run.
What inspired you to run for office?
From the start I’ve believed that I can make a difference both being a teacher and through politics and government. This is where I grew up. I attended first grade through senior year here, and I also went to a community college in the area, so I know what it’s like as a student, and now I’m a teacher in a neighboring district, where we have similar concerns.
How will your experience as an educator influence your work if you are elected?
My experience in the classroom gives me the best perspective on what students really need, and what teachers need to be successful. I believe my experience will drive every decision that I make. It’s good to have diverse viewpoints on the board, but if you only have people who never set foot in a classroom, there definitely can be a disconnect.
Sometimes school boards make decisions on curriculum without ever discussing it with teachers to know if it makes sense. We recently were told to pilot a new program starting in the middle of the year that we had been told nothing about, and the teachers had to rush through the material. If [the board] had asked us or laid out a plan, it would have been much more effective.
What has been the toughest part about running for office—and how did you face it?
Being only 26, when I talk to some people about running, they think I’m joking. I’ve had people tell me, “You’re too young, why do you want to do that? You should do that ten years from now.” And I say, “Well, thank you so much for your opinion, but I am running, and here’s why.” Some people are stuck in their ways, but I have found that most are willing to listen if you’re really prepared to share your story.
What gives you hope for the future of politics?
The students who survived the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, and are speaking out. Politicians better listen to them, because they are the future.
Favorite teaching moment:
Every time a former student stops by to catch up with me. Some come back the following year to say how much they learned from my class. But I’ve also had students that didn’t always do the work come back and say, “I should have listened to you.” If I made a difference in their life at any point, whether it’s curriculum-related or not, I feel like I’ve accomplished something important.
What are your top issues you’d like to work on if elected?
I am advocating for student wellness–making sure that students are mentally and physically healthy. We live in a beautiful area right by the coast, but students don’t get out and explore enough. I’d like to see students spending more time outside by increasing the number of school gardens, getting kids involved in recycling and composting, and helping them learn about alternative energy.