If you live on Indianapolis’ near west side, there’s a good chance you’ve seen Debra Pasha decked out in her aqua Stand for Children t-shirt walking block-to-block, knocking on doors, talking to voters “Don’t forget to flip over the ballot and vote for IPS school board on November 8,” Debra reminds a man who answers the door, “Pulling a straight ticket doesn’t register a vote for the school board. You need to flip over the ballot to vote for school board separately.”
With all of the attention being paid to the contentious Presidential election; and highly publicized races for the Senate and Indiana governor’s mansion; it’s easy to overlook the four Indianapolis Public Schools (IPS) school board seats being contested this fall.
For Debra – whose granddaughter attends an IPS elementary – there’s no more important votes being cast on November 8 than those for the board that determines the direction of IPS and its 30,000 students
“It’s important that people learn about the candidates, the people that sit on the board and the decisions they make have a bigger everyday effect on our community than any other candidates,” Debra said, “Even those voters who don’t have kids in school need to pay attention. If our kids aren’t getting a good education, they might be out running the streets, causing trouble or a life-long dependency of the welfare system. It’s an important race.”
Before she moved to Indy a year ago, Debra spent years volunteering with local schools in southwest Michigan. She also mounted a run for school board herself.
“I finished in second place,” she said.
On a personal level, Debra whose children are grown, knows the importance of education for setting children off on the right path.
“My son started to run with the wrong crowd. Some boys he was with got in trouble, and although he didn’t do anything wrong, he could’ve been suspended or expelled,” Debra recalled, “The principal knew me from my work with the school and she gave me a call.
“I sat him down and made him write a report about what he wanted for his future. He wrote that he wanted to be a police officer, so I started taking steps to help him realize that goal.
“I saw to it that he was on track to go to college; that he got into college; and that he started taking steps toward a successful career. After he got into college, he started pursuing internships with law enforcement, he worked in campus security, and arranged a visit to an FBI facility. I’m proud to say that he earned a college degree and in a few weeks, he’ll be starting his new job as a U.S. Capitol police officer.”
Upon relocating to Indianapolis, Debra got involved with Stand for Children Indiana through Stand University for Parents (Stand UP). Since graduating from Stand UP, she’s been a strong advocate for improving IPS schools.
Because of her involvement and passion, she was chosen to serve on the Stand Indiana eight-member parent endorsement committee that chose four IPS board candidates to receive the organization’s endorsement for November’s IPS school board election.
The parents chose to endorse Michael O’Connor in district one, Venita Moore in district two, Diane Arnold and district four and Sam Odle for an at-large seat. during a nearly three-hour meeting in September. The parents based their choices on the candidates’ voting records, feedback provided through Stand Indiana’s candidate questionnaire and on the basis of their belief in quality schools for all children – regardless of ZIP code.
If you see Debra or any of the other Stand Indiana campaign canvassers this fall, take the time to listen to what they have to say. Your one vote could have a dramatic impact on the future of our community.