Seven questions with the State Board of Education’s student member
Many high school students ponder their own futures in education. Edgar Thornton, a high school student from Iowa City, thinks about the state’s future in education.
Thornton, a senior at City High, has been appointed to serve a one-year term as the student member of the Iowa State Board of Education. His love of education and policy is deep-rooted, something he gleaned from his grandmother, who was an educator. Joining the board, he said, seemed like a good fit.
Thornton’s term began on May 1 and will run for one year. The State Board of Education, which works in partnership with the Iowa Department of Education to provide support, supervision, and oversight for the state education system, is scheduled to meet at least seven times during the term, mostly in Des Moines.
That schedule won’t throw Thornton off track, since he’s used to being busy with the National Honor Society, Boy Scouts, the school band and tennis team, in addition to academics. Below, Thornton gives some insight into his life and his thoughts on education:
How does education excite and challenge you as a student?
I am excited to just learn new things and remain academically conscious and motivated. I enjoy looking at education from a different lens, how it can be improved and to use that motivation to give my effort to the board. I want to learn more about education in Iowa from a governmental standpoint, and I consider myself naturally curious.
Who has inspired you to pursue education and serve your community?
I would say my grandmother. She was a minority growing up in the South during the Depression and after. She pushed herself to get a good education. She had two Ph.D.’s. She had Ph.D.’s in education and religion. Until the day she died, she pushed me and others around her.
Why do you think it is important for a student to be a member of the State Board of Education?
Having the position is important because they are in classrooms on a day-to-day basis. They see the resources and teachers in the classroom. Students are directly affected. They should speak up so people hear what they have to say.
How will you represent Iowa public schools while being a member of the State Board of Education?
It is impossible to represent every single student in the Iowa school system. I have been in the system a long time and achieving from a minority point of view. I want to represent it the best way I can. I want to look for small things that can be done to make things better and improve the quality of education.
What do you hope to learn while serving on the State Board of Education?
This will give me an opportunity to be in a professional environment, and relate ideas that may not usually get through. I want to know how things work – to be like an adult and work on policy.
What changes would you like to see made in the Iowa education system?
I would like there to be a shift in Advanced Placement (preparation and enrollment) for minority and low-income students. This way they will get out of school ready for a job or for college. They are the ones who need the education most.
What are your personal future goals?
I am definitely going to college. I am going to major in engineering and minor or double major in political science. I will probably go to a state school, possibly at Iowa or Iowa State. I see myself in the government, though. I see myself campaigning or working on policy and research.