School Board Welcomes Two New Members After Tumultuous Election Season


Maggie Storts, Staff Writer, Editor

Two new school board members, Erica Detweiler and Sonia Walker, were elected to the Jonathan Alder Board of Education on November 2nd during a time when national controversy within the education system has received significant attention. 


School districts across the country have been under fire in the media for months because of contentious decisions regarding Covid policies, curriculum, censorship, and other hot-button issues because some parents have opposed the lack of influence they’ve had on their children’s education. 


While school board elections have gained more attention, education has become an influential topic in larger elections outside of just school administration as well- Virginia governor-elect Glenn Youngkin recently concluded a successful campaign focused on statewide education reform in 2021. 


Youngkin’s campaign focused on the same issues as school board campaigns all over the country. EducationWeek publishes: “To say this election was about ‘education’ is to say it was about values, frustration, and parental empowerment. And that, not surprisingly, is potent stuff.”


These issues are very motivating for voters to participate and use their voice for their children. This was demonstrated throughout this local election, as Walker and Detweiler both saw a vast increase of community involvement in the election process. 


“Because of the division in the world right now… people from all sides are paying attention to what is going on, they’re paying attention to politics,” Walker says.


Due to the increase in voter participation, the Jonathan Alder Education Association hosted a candidate forum to allow constituents to submit questions for the candidates to answer publicly. This event did take place in person, but was available to stream online. The recording of the forum has reached 877 views on Youtube since it was first posted. 


Overall voter turnout in Plain City rose from 25% in 2019 to 30% in 2021.


Detweiler believes this turnout shows a shift in what Plain City believes the qualifications of a school board member should be: “People are ready to stand behind community members with shared values, community members that have a vested interest in the schools doing well, and community members that can have an impact in a real way and are actively involved with the schools, i.e. parents.”


Walker and Detweiler both pride themselves on deep roots within Alder Schools and the Plain City community.


“I have children in the district and I want to see our schools succeed, and even when my children are gone I want to have a good school district,” Walker says. Detweiler adds, “I feel like [relationships within the district] give me more of an insight into the culture in the schools, into kind of the way things are on the ground.”


While neither of the women have experience in school administration, they are passionate about maintaining excellence in the district and being present in schools to learn about education. 


“I want people to understand and know that when their kids are attending Jonathan Alder Schools, they are getting the best education they can.” Walker expresses. 


Overall, Detweiler and Walker say they are striving to keep Alder students in safe hands and fulfill their campaign promises of parental involvement in the district. After a period of polarizing nationwide disagreements, the two elects assure that political agendas will not have a place in Jonathan Alder Schools. 


Walker states, “Politics just doesn’t have a place in the schools. The schools are there to educate our children…then the children will learn their own politics as they go in life. We want to give them the ability to accept information, process information, make up their own mind, and think on their own behalf.”