Stand Up for Community Values & Local Control
Advocating FOR Our District Families
Locally, we need to see that issues important to district families are a priority for our board and district. During COVID, despite the fact that nearly 70% of district families expressed the desire for their students to return to in-person learning for the fall of 2020, our board unanimously approved a reopening plan which staggered in elementary students starting in October, with secondary students having to wait until February of 2021, almost 6 months into the school year!
This impacted families, students' mental health, to say nothing of the learning loss, despite the very best efforts of all the amazing teachers and administrators who worked tirelessly under such conditions. Families watched as districts like Mead and Deer Park asked questions, did the research and figured out where their rights and the law were. They listened to their families and reopened in person, with remote learning available for families who didn't feel comfortable with their children returning to the classroom. That is the kind of advocating our district families deserve from their school board.
Advocating WITH our District Families
Concerning state laws, they lay the foundations for public schools within the state. They can explicitly require school districts to implement specific policies and curricula. School boards must govern within the parameters of state law, and that law can supersede community values. Therefore, to govern our school district as we see fit and hold to the educational standards we know our students need and deserve, we must keep our fingers on the pulse of state legislation and be willing to stand up for ourselves and ask questions.
No matter the issue, if legislation relevant to education is coming down the pipeline, it is the responsibility of our board to inform our district families on the issues and encourage them to do their due diligence to learn more. As members of the Washington State School Directors Association (WSSDA), our local school board members learn to create effective policies and advocate for educational issues. Yet, despite having a legislative representative on our board and legislative proposals regarding our district's priorities approved by our board every year, our community does not hear about the issues at hand. In posted board minutes, there are little to no detailed notes regarding what is discussed concerning legislative reports. Other communications regarding relevant legislation are not made to the district at large. If it is important to the board, shouldn't it be important to the families they represent? Couldn't we advocate together - whether it is for funding, for curriculum, for local control over policy?
I want to see more significant connections between what our school board knows about education-related legislation and our district community—keeping parents, teachers, and students in the loop. Then, when we have good information, we can act responsibly to speak up for our students and their education. Let's advocate as a community!