How Florida parents can drive change in their school boards
If you’re concerned about something happening in your child’s school, odds are you’re not alone.
Florida parents are interacting with their local school boards more than ever.
But how can parents make sure their voices are heard and respected by elected officials? Here four things parents can do to make changes in their local school district
- Go to a school board meeting. School board meetings are open to the public and give citizens the chance to bring concerns directly to the board. With so many parents wanting to be heard, though, you should be sure to sign up early to ensure you have the chance to speak before the meeting ends. Before you go, make sure you understand how the meetings work, then be brief, specific, candid and respectful when speaking. Before you
- Write a letter to the editor. Not everyone is up-to-date on the issues in education that are driving parents to attend school board meetings. Write a letter to the editor in your local paper to explain your concerns and get them heard by a wider audience. Remember that tone matters. Just like when speaking in person, it’s important to be brief, specific, candid and respectful when sharing your message.
- Join with other parents. If you don’t feel that your concerns are being addressed, it might be time to join together with like-minded parents to amplify your message. You can do this through a Facebook group, a group chat on a messaging app (many, like Signal, ensure your privacy), or by meeting in person. Together, you can strategize how best to make sure your message is heard by the school board and the community.
- Get the facts. It might be necessary to seek documents or communication through a Freedom of Information Act, or FOIA, request to ensure you have the full picture of what is happening in your school district. This sample FOIA request can get you started.
- The only way to make sure school board members represent the community is for the community to vote in school board elections. You might even want to consider running yourself.
Remember that the school board exists to serve the community, and communicating with them openly and with respect is critical in allowing them to do their job well. Don’t be afraid to speak up. Odds are, if you are concerned about something happening in schools, you’re not alone.