Ball State junior William Walker has more on his plate than just schoolwork; he's running for a spot on the Muncie Community Schools school board.
If elected, Walker would be helping students in a position that he found himself in just two years prior.
Walker, a political science major, graduated from Muncie Central in 2014. He said that he decided to run for school board when he got "fed up" with the way things are currently run.
“I want my hometown school to be successful and be thought of as a positive system, and, right now, we are on a negative slope and seen in a very negative light,” Walker said.
He is one of six names appearing on the ballot next Tuesday. To do so, he had to obtain 10 signatures from different educators in the district.
At the age of 20, Walker said he would be only two years older than some of the students he would be serving while on the board. However, he said that his youth is an advantage.
“I think my youth gives me the perspective this board needs. We can no longer have the same beige sounds playing over and over that don't fix our problems," Walker said. "We must change the way we see things and the way we address them because what we are doing does not work, and the current trend of our corporation shows that. We must put the students first and bring dignity, trust and respect back to our district."
While some might expect Walker to be counted out of the running because of his age, he said that isn’t the case at all.
“I have had extremely positive feedback and people have actually been excited to support me because of my age," Walker said. "It means a lot to older generations that someone our age wants to step up and try and solve some issues and take that initiative, and I am happy and humbled to be that person.”
Walker added that he's had many experiences working in the community through Rotaract and the LIVESTRONG foundation, both community service organizations.
“I believe I am qualified because I know what works for students today," Walker said. "We see a lot of different generations trying to figure out how our generation learns, and instead of speculating and using trial and error, I know what works best for our students and our teachers."
If elected, Walker has many plans for implementing change within the schools’ infrastructure, starting with ending violations of Open Door laws.
“Our district has a very clear transparency issue. I believe that our current board violates Open Door laws by holding executive meetings and discussing agenda items behind closed doors, which is a direct violation," Walker said. "We must end the closed-door mentality.”
In addition, Walker wants to end district mandated standardized testing. He said that it can be detrimental to students because it takes away from learning time and is extremely expensive.
He also said he wants to restore the teachers’ trust in the district by resolving their contract negotiations.
“We must open up communication and involve all stakeholders in the district's decisions. We must work with our teachers and students, not against them,” he said.
Walker added that this election is very important because it decides where the district will stand in four years. Looking into the future, he said his new ways of thinking will help the schools be more stable and reliable for students.
“If we elect new members and fresh eyes, I believe we can start a positive trend to bring our district out of the shadows and be a highlight of our community," Walker said. “If we keep playing the same noises and create no change, I fear that we will be further in the hole and have the potential to be so deep, it could take decades to undo what is being done."
Walker is endorsed by the Muncie Teacher’s Association, and he said the support he's been receiving overall has been a big push for him to keep making his goals known.
“Winning would mean a lot to me because it is my own community that rallied behind me to support me to victory," he said. "It means my community understands that my agenda puts our students first and has the interests of our community in mind as well."
After graduation, Walker hopes to get his law degree and begin a career in politics in Washington D.C.