5 Ways to Advocate for K-12 Students in Your Community
Every week I receive calls and emails from parents who have legitimate problems and issues with how their child’s school operates. In response, I frame my feedback in a way that increases that agency and empowers them to exercise. Parents have the power to hold their child’s school accountable, but they have to do a little leg work. In this article will discuss 5 ways to advocate for K-12 students in your community.
Educate yourself. Your child’s school and the district that it is a part of is a public trust; meaning, it is empowered by all the citizens in your community to perform a public service. If you want to exercise your voice and power, the first thing you need to do is educate yourself about the education policies and laws that govern your school district. Often school officials believe that they can operate with impunity because they assume parents and community members don’t understand the nuances of education law and policy. But in reality, they are public officials compelled to follow these laws and policies. So when you call them out on a practice that is out of compliance with local, state or federal standards and practices, they have no choice but to remedy the situation or face legal action.
Join the local school board. A local school board is charged with interpreting state regulations and setting similar policies for its district while creating strategic plans for the advancement of education in its district. The local school board represents the state in educational matters as well as advocates for the concerns and rights of the local citizenry. Although the local school board is bound to implement state educational policies, it also has the right to challenge policy through accepted channels if it feels the state designated regulations are not in the best interests of students and schools in their district. Joining the school board is a huge responsibility, but you can make a significant difference. In most school districts, some of the school board seats are appointed by the mayor, and the rest are elected positions. Just depends on the part of the country you live in.
Hold school board members accountable. Maybe you are unable to commit the time or energy that it takes to become a school board member. Or maybe, you tried to run for a seat but lost the election. No worries. You can still have a powerful voice on the school board. You have the right to contact school board members and voice your opinion, and attend a school board meeting an give public testimony on matters related to education. In doing so, you exert your influence, which will have a powerful effect on how the school district is operated.
Join the school site council. Most schools have a site-based school council that is made up of parents, teachers, and administrators. They are selected and appointed by the school’s principal and convene regularly to discuss and vote on school-related agenda items. Often, principals pick parents that are active, meaning they attend and volunteer at school events. You have the right to be considered for such a position, and all you must do is ask the school principal.
Join the PTA. PTA (Parent Teacher Association), refers to a locally organized group of parents who work in conjunction with teachers in bringing about changes in a school. All parents are eligible to join. You can get more info from your child’s teacher or the school principal.
Now you have the tools that you need to advocate for K-12 students in your community. Let’s get to work.