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December 6, 2012

Historic First—From Classroom to Boardroom

Homeschool Graduate Elected to State Board of Education

Sarah Fowler
Homeschool graduate Sarah Fowler, 24, defeated an education law attorney to earn a seat on Ohio’s education board.

Homeschoolers have often shown their passion for education. Now, one homeschooler is taking that passion from the classroom to the capital of Ohio.

Sarah Fowler, a 24-year-old homeschool graduate from Rock Creek, in what is believed to be an historic first—perhaps in the nation—was elected to the Ohio State Board of Education. The state board reviews candidates for state superintendent, recommends policy reforms to the legislature, and sets administrative policy regulations. Every five years, the board reviews the state’s homeschool laws—a review that is next scheduled to come up this summer.

Eleven board members are elected from districts, and eight at-large members appointed by the governor. When the redistricting process left Ohio’s 7th District without a board member, Fowler, encouraged by friends, decided to run for the vacant seat. Fowler filed as a candidate just two days before the filing deadline and 92 days before the election. Few expected her to do well, let alone win.

Core Supporters

Despite meager funds and a short campaign schedule, Fowler worked overtime with a core group of family and volunteers, attending over 80 events in three months. With 13 years of experience as a small business owner, Fowler drew on her skills in sales, marketing, and graphic design to reach potential voters.

Along with her six younger siblings, Fowler was homeschooled from the start by her parents, Kevin and Laura Fowler. Having grown up as a homeschool student, Fowler strongly supports homeschooling and school choice.

“Parents have the God-given right and responsibility to direct their children’s education,” Fowler wrote on her campaign website. “I desire to protect their right to choose whatever educational opportunity they deem best for their children.”

In addition to supporting the rights of parents and educational choice, Fowler also campaigned on reforming school curriculum and education funding. Concerned about possible bias in public school curriculum, Fowler wants to ensure that all subjects, especially history, provide an accurate and contextual education for students. Fowler also seeks to move away from an education system funded by property taxes to a more broad-based system.

Winning Big

Fowler won with 60 percent of the vote—more than twice the number as the second-place candidate, 38-year-old education law attorney James Collum, who received 26 percent. Fowler won her home county, Ashtabula, with 67 percent.

Research has indicated that homeschooling produces mature, responsible students who can take the skills they learn in the classroom to serve their communities. Homeschool students have been shown on average not only to perform higher academically, but also to be more engaged as citizens and leaders. At 24, Sarah Fowler is living proof of this. She brings experience from working on her family’s farm, running her own business, and being homeschooled and hopes to use the lessons learned to serve others in Ohio.

“I look forward to serving our district on the State Board of Education for the next two years,” Fowler wrote in a Facebook post after the election. “I appreciate your ongoing prayer support.”

HSLDA attorney for member affairs in Ohio, Michael Donnelly, congratulated Ms. Fowler.

“I look forward to working with her and other advocates of freedom, including Christian Home Educators of Ohio, to advance the right of parents to direct the education and upbringing of their children. Her election is a shining example of what can happen when energy and enthusiasm combine with a good home education!” he said.