17-year old school board member Connor Cushman
Decisions made by the California State Board of Education are not agreed upon easily. Serious issues are debated, and the future of education for an entire state is rigorously investigated by qualified representatives; including a 17-year old high school student.
Conor Cushman is not able to vote for president, but is a member of the California State Board of Education with full voting privileges. The position was obtained through a state-wide competition; one that Cushman had no expectation of winning. Without an extensive knowledge of school board operations, Cushman applied for the student board member position and won. He is now part of an extremely influential political process, affecting teachers, parents and students in his home state.
Cushman knew the job would be big, and he approached it with a diligent maturity. Maintaining an A average in school and being on the board has been a challenge which Cushman has been able to meet. He travels alone to Sacramento monthly, staying in a hotel alone while reviewing board meeting materials and catching up on homework.
Due to several new appointments made this year, Cushman is already 3rd in seniority on the board. The power he holds is apparent to him, but not taken lightly. Lobbyists call his parents’ home and cell phones frequently, with issues regarding California State education.
Not only is Cushman a full voting member, he is contributing suggestions for the future of education. An “Adopt a School” program was introduced by Cushman. This proposal outlines a plan in which more affluent schools would partner with less fortunate schools, and share costs to decrease the financial gap. Cushman has shown similar empathy in previous charity endeavors, including a high school charity club which raised $23,000 at its first event.
While Cushman may legally still be a child, he is stepping up to the plate for California education. Taking his responsibility seriously, he is proving to be a valuable asset to the board. His term will end in July, 2011.