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Editorial: Looking for our own Shiva

| May 24, 2023 1:00 AM

Maybe there's a Shiva Rajbhandari lurking in the Kootenai County crowd.

Name doesn’t ring a bell? Well, if it doesn’t now, perhaps it will a little further down the road, when Shiva Rajbhandari resides in the governor’s mansion or represents the state in the U.S. Senate or serves as Secretary of Education.

But we get ahead of ourselves.

Shiva is only 18, but he’s an astonishingly accomplished 18. Last September, he easily defeated an extremist Boise School District trustee, 56.4% to 43.6%. Since then, Shiva has somehow balanced the responsibilities of a high school senior with the duties of an elected official overseeing a 23,000-student district and its $285 million budget.

Interviewed recently by The74 (read the article here: https://bit.ly/42HDEaV), the former student activist described his role on the seven-person school board as a voice of moderation. What he brings to the table, he says, is the student perspective that too often is missing from important decision-making, particularly in this era of culture war combat.

“Regardless of what Tucker Carlson says is going on in Idaho schools, here’s what’s actually going on,” Shiva told The74. “Only students can provide that on-the-ground perspective.”

But perspective is something every person’s got. What makes Shiva so impressive is his actual influence on the school board.

As just two quick examples since he joined, the school board has created a new youth advisory council; Boise School District also recently administered a mental health survey — its first ever — to better understand students’ struggles.

Shiva is advocating for a permanent school board seat occupied by a district student — an idea that would dramatically increase understanding in every Idaho school district. At least, every district that actually wants to understand the students it serves.

For young adults reading this editorial, don’t dismiss the notion of getting more involved because you’re just too busy. Shiva balances his school board duties with rigorous academics that have earned him admission to Stanford University, University of North Carolina and other prestigious schools.

He also runs track and volunteers with an organization dedicated to increasing young adults voting in Idaho — an extremely successful group, as Idaho has the nation’s highest growth rate of voter registrations among 18- and 19-year-olds.

So, ladies and gentlemen, is there a Shiva Rajbhandari or two among us? With school board elections coming this fall, now would be a great time for them to step forward.

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