ELIZABETH, NJ — Kason Little hasn’t even graduated from Elizabeth High School but he is already seeking a post to help run the district.
Little, 18, who declared his candidacy for the Elizabeth Board of Education via social media Feb. 18, said he knows questions about his age and experience are inevitable. However, he’s been doing his homework for years, he said.
He said he has attended dozens of City Council meetings, political debates and other events, and also started the Students of Elizabeth Advisory Council, a nonprofit group that meets after school. These experiences, Little said, have prepared him to run for a seat on the board.
“I can truly, wholeheartedly say I have more experience than the majority of those board members on the board right now,” Little said. “I have been in attendance at nearly every board meeting over the past three years, staying at board meetings until 3 in the morning. I have studied the board policies more than once so that I can better help and assist parents who have questions regarding policies.
“I can answer them since I’ve studied the policies. I’m there at the forefront. I have the experience, I have a good record. I have been there and I will continue to be there whether or not I’m elected.”
Little said he is running on a platform of government transparency, removal of outside politics from the board and student involvement in local government.
“The main thing that I have been advocating since I was basically 12 years old is being a leader,” Little said. “But, to empower young people, students, to tell them they have a voice. Their voices are needed, especially in the decision-making process. While decisions are being made that affect their educations, I believe they should play a primary role and should be present and have a seat at the table and give their input.”
Little said he became interested in public service at age 12, when he noticed his classmates looking to him as “a big brother or peer leader, a motivator, an inspiration, someone they can look up to.” His focus, however, extends outside school, where he said he does a lot of advocacy and activism for “social and political justice.”
He said his mother, Cynthia Little, has always been his biggest supporter, staying up nights with him and helping him map out ways to someday make a difference in the city.
He said his peers have also offered their support for his run for a seat on the school board.
“They are so amazed, and I don’t just mean my classmates,” Kason Little said. “The students whether younger or older than me, they tend to find me during their challenges and their difficulties. But, they’re so amazed. They treat me with the utmost respect as if I’m this legendary adult, but I’m just in their age group. It is really an honor to know that I’m respected by my peers and staff members and administrators.”
Not only is Kason Little trying to decide on a college to study political science and government, but he’s also writing a book, “Where Do We Go from Here,” which examines how to save the education and criminal justice systems.
Soon, however, his focus will turn toward a run for one of the three open school board seats.
“I tell you this is not a stepping stone for me, this a calling,” Little said. “I was born to do this. I was created this way for a reason. This is what it’s all about. When I think how much it will take, how much of my personal time … I’m ready 100 percent.”