Longtime Palm Beach County School Board member takes on parental rights advocate in election

Decision 2022: Marcia Andrews and Jennifer Showalter competing for District 6 seat
Marcia Andrews and Jennifer Showalter, the candidates for the Palm Beach County School Board District 6 seat, Nov. 3, 2022.jpg
Posted at 4:58 PM, Nov 03, 2022
and last updated 2022-11-03 18:42:21-04

PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla. — It's down to the last few days of campaigning to see who will represent District 6 on the Palm Beach County School Board.

After a crowded field of five candidates in the August primary, incumbent Marcia Andrews is trying to hold onto her seat, while her opponent, Jennifer Showalter, emerged from the parental rights movement and wants to make a change.

SPECIAL COVERAGE: Decision 2022 | Education

District 6 — the largest district in Palm Beach County — features a battle between a longtime school board member and a newcomer.

"It's just nice to tell people, I’m you. You are me, and I just need to work a little longer to help our children for success," Andrews said.

Andrews, who was first elected to the Palm Beach County School Board in 2010, said she's not done working for the children in Palm Beach County as she runs for her fourth term.

"I knew there was a possibility going into the race that I would have to work differently, and I have," Andrews said. "I’ve been talking to everybody I see."

Andrews is focused on her experience inside the classroom and track record to help voters get to know her.

"I need to be there having been a teacher and a principal and someone who knows the district really well to lift those who need a lot of support," Andrews said. "So helping to improve academic achievement."

Academics, mental health, and school safety are some of Andrews' top priorities.

"It's not education-driven anymore. It's agenda-driven. And we need to get back into the academics," said Showalter, Andrews' opponent in the District 6 race.

Academics are also a big focus for Showalter. The Wellington mom said running for school board was never on her to-do list, until the COVID-19 pandemic.

"I was speaking at the school board meetings for about two and a half years. And I saw what they did and didn’t do. And I saw how they treated the community. And I said, no. We need to bring respect for the community back and we need to bring respect for rule of law, and that’s why I decided to run," Showalter said.

Showalter is a strong advocate for parental rights.

"We don't co-parent with the government," Showalter said. "The government is there to teach education. They are there for academics. They are not there to teach morality to the children."

Showalter wants to focus on open communication with the community, transparency, and accountability, and said she can bring a fresh perspective.

"If people keep voting the same people in, nothing is ever going to change," Showalter said.

Andrews also sees parental involvement as critical.

"I believe that the parent is the best educator for their child," Andrews said. "They know what’s best for their children more than anyone else. But I think we have to collaborate and communicate together so they get the best benefits when they come to school every day."

In the August primary election, Andrews collected 48% of the vote, while Showalter had 18%. But because Andrews didn't get at least 50%, the race is heading to a runoff on Nov. 8.

A second runoff election is also happening in Palm Beach County for the District 7 seat, which covers parts of West Palm Beach and Riviera Beach.

In that race, we will have a new school board member, with local attorneys Edwin Ferguson and Corey Michael Smith vying for the seat that Dr. Debra Robinson is leaving after 22 years on the Palm Beach County School Board.

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