By Josh Thall
The Lansing Star
Editors note: This November, voters in Lansing will elect three School Board members from a ballot of seven candidates; including two members who are looking to be reelected. Among the main issues in this election are enrollment, school district perception and student achievement.
Each school board member that gets elected will serve a six year term.
Lansing– Lansing School Board candidate Thomas Patrick Morgan took to the streets
“This is grassroots campaigning, right here,” Morgan said. “This is what I know how to do, the school district and all levels of government need to do a better job of listening to the ideas of regular people.”
Morgan, 34, who now lives on the southwest side of Lansing, was born and schooled in Grand Rapids, Mich. He obtained a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Michigan State University.
Morgan is now a communications consultant for MESSA, which is the Michigan Education Special Services Association. As a communications consultant he helps communicate important information about health, wellness and health plan usage to MESSA members, through communication channels such as member newsletters and social media.
Morgan said that he has been working in education policy for about seven years, advocating for the value of public schools. When his first son was born nine months ago he decided he wanted to get more involved. He wants to make sure his son and other children in Lansing get the best possible education so they can be prepared for college and the workplace.
Morgan said one of the things that sets him apart from some of the other candidates is he has an education policy background.
Morgan said that he worked on the state level of educational policy for a number of years with Byrum & Fisk Advocacy Communication.
Morgan said that from 2007-2012 when he was with Byrum & Fisk Advocacy Communications he helped to plan and implement several advocacy campaigns in support of public education.
Morgan said that he also worked in the public affairs department for the Michigan Education Association (MEA) from 2012-2014.
“I have been advocating for public schools for several years now, I am a parent who is invested in Lansing, I have worked as an activist and advocate in Lansing for many years and have many relationships within our community that I think can be beneficial for the school district,” Morgan said.
Morgan said that his main goals include bringing resources back into the school district, building more community partnerships and increasing accountability for everyone involved in Lansing schools.
“So often we are only holding teachers accountable,” Morgan said. “We need to start holding administrators accountable, we need to start holding politicians accountable and we need to start holding parents accountable.”
Morgan said he believes the board needs to be able to look at the issues facing the district from a community-wide standpoint. He said the board also needs to find out how it can better interact with the state policies that are in place, as well as those policies that could be created within the next few years.
“Like it or not, what we do at the local level is heavily regulated by the state,” Morgan said. “So we need to make sure we are following state procedures, that we are aligning things properly so that we have a seamless delivery of education whenever possible.”
Morgan said the school district also needs to be more direct in fixing some of the issues that are facing the district, such as safety issues in some of the schools. He said the board needs to be doing everything it can to stop families from leaving the district using school-of-choice.
“The school district has gone from 24,000 students to 12,000 students,” Morgan said. “I think a large part of that is due to the fact that the district isn’t doing a good enough job communicating all the good things that are happening in Lansing schools.”