Ariel Miner, member of grassroots campaign to fully fund public schools, files for election to Lawrence school board
photo by: Contributed
Ariel Miner, the mother of four students enrolled in Lawrence schools and a member of a grassroots campaign advocating for fully funded public education in Kansas, has filed for election to the Lawrence school board.
Miner grew up in Tonganoxie and most recently has worked as a substitute teacher in four area school districts. She told the Journal-World she’s been interested in getting certified to teach industrial psychology or organizational development, but has a wide-ranging work and educational background. She studied music at the University of Kansas and has worked in the restaurant, retail and financial services industries.
“I do like to know why things are the way they are and digging into research to understand things better,” Miner said. “I think we need a more critical eye on district decisions.”
Miner said she’s particularly interested in financial transparency, integrity in leadership decisions and having more democracy in school board processes. She’s involved with a new grassroots movement, Kansans United for Public Schools, whose goal is to advocate for all Kansans receiving the education they deserve. That organization is supporting Miner and a slate of three other candidates in the upcoming election: incumbent board member Carole Cadue-Blackwood, Kevin Coronado and Yolanda Franklin.
Miner is very familiar with the school district; this fall, she’ll have children enrolled from kindergarten through high school, and she’s been paying especially close attention for the past few years. But Miner said the decision to close Pinckney and Broken Arrow elementary schools following the end of the school year “hit hard” and was what ultimately motivated her to run.
“I think if one of the city’s initiatives is ‘strong, welcoming neighborhoods,’ I would really like to see the district working in partnership with the city to achieve that, and I don’t think you can achieve that by closing neighborhood schools,” Miner said.
Miner thinks that the community doesn’t trust district leadership, and that’s leading to the loss of too many families, teachers and programs. She said she’s hoping for more positive outcomes in the future.
As a former substitute and a parent, Miner wants to see teachers, staff and students be treated as a priority rather than as an “afterthought.” She also wants community voices to be louder than consultants’ and wants to support the district’s LGBTQ+ students.
“I believe our district is moving in a very negative direction,” Miner said. “I would like to see that turned around. I really think we have to be willing to admit that things aren’t OK.”
Miner is one of four candidates who have filed to run specifically for a seat vacated by former school board member Andrew Nussbaum, who was elected as a newcomer to the board in 2021 but resigned less than seven months after being sworn in. Miner, Justine O. Burton, Tierra Teske and incumbent board President Shannon Kimball have all filed to fill the remaining two years of Nussbaum’s term.
Because the number of candidates who filed for the special election is more than three times the number of open seats, there will be a primary election on Aug. 1 in the race for the seat.
Outside of the special election, the terms of Kimball, board Vice President Paula Vann, Past President Erica Hill and Cadue-Blackwood will expire at the end of this year. Nine candidates have filed to fill those four seats: Cadue-Blackwood, Coronado, Franklin, Ronald “G.R.” Gordon-Ross, Rachel Stumblingbear, Anne Costello, Brandon Moore, Edward “E.J.” Gonzales and Jody Meyer. Voters will select who will fill those four-year terms in the general election on Nov. 7.