School Board Elections Matter

Did you know that every year is an election year, including 2021? Voters are not choosing partisan candidates for President, however, or any other federal or state offices. The upcoming May 18 election is instead dedicated almost exclusively to choosing the members of your local school board. 

Our state has more than 1,200 public schools serving kindergarten through high school organized into 197 school districts. Most Oregon School Boards have between five and seven members who serve four-year terms. It’s an elected but unpaid position that has tremendous influence over local education. Rural school districts supervise a small number of students and staff. Larger districts, meanwhile, have hundreds of staff and tens of thousands of students.

School boards are becoming increasingly important to the statewide political landscape. Several members of the Oregon Legislature currently sit on school boards in addition to their legislative work, or spent time on school boards learning the ropes of being a public official before running for higher office. Electing pro-life advocates to these school boards is absolutely crucial to grow pro-life community leaders, some of whom will go on to seek higher positions.

Another important aspect that school boards have decision-making power over: school-based health clinics. Many pro-life parents have experienced or feel that they are not properly informed about the kind of healthcare their children can access. Oregon doesn’t have strong laws to ensure parents know what happens or what is taught about abortion in these clinics. Having pro-life school board members can go a long ways toward keeping parents informed about what their children are both learning and accessing from these school-based health services.

The importance of local school boards has not gone unnoticed by Planned Parenthood and NARAL. They have invested a significant and growing number of resources in these local elections. ORTL PAC finds ourselves going head-to-head with pro-abortion political operations in these typically small campaigns. Thankfully, we have won major victories, specifically on the Salem-Keizer School Board, where five of seven members are pro-life. Unfortunately, the abortion PACs and their allies have recently won victories in Bend and Hillsboro.

The most important resource we currently lack is pro-life candidates. With 198 school districts consisting of multiple positions up for election across the state, pro-life advocates must step up now more than ever. Many of these elections can be won simply by having a pro-life advocate willing to have their name on the ballot.Please email if you are interested in running for school board or want to help pro-life advocates win in your community.


    1. Oregon Right to Life supports Kari Zohner for the Salem-Keizer school board. Be watching for our voter guide in the upcoming issue of our Life In Oregon newsletter.

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