Historically, school boards didn't gain much attention outside of their communities. But a lot has changed in the past year. Across the country, culture wars have disrupted school board meetings and undermined healthy local control of our schools. School board members have come under attack for trying to do their jobs and run our schools well. In the short term, these outbursts are distracting, but their long-term effects are more troubling: They will change who runs for local school boards and who wins those seats—in many cases for the worse.
In order to ensure that we elect school board representatives who are focused on the real needs of our children, we need to be informed voters. Oftentimes, the information you need is hard to find. Check out this guide for help on learning as much as you can before Election Day.
Attending School Board Meetings
As a concerned community member, you may wish to be part of the decision-making process for your local schools by attending school board meetings and supporting important proposals. If you do, there are important ways to ensure that your voice is heard.
You won’t have a lot of time. Make sure that your message is succinct and powerful.
Find out what the process is for speaking during the public comment period as well as how long you will have to speak. This can usually be found out by calling the main district office or looking on the school board’s website.
The most powerful public comments are those that are unique and personalized.
If you are speaking as part of a group, ensure that each person speaks to a different point so that the testimonies don’t sound repetitive. This also ensures that you can get multiple points across as a group even though each person only has a few minutes.
A strong closer is important. Don’t just trail off at the end. Time yourself so that you ensure you can get through your closing without being cut off.
Write down your remarks to ensure a polished presentation.
Practice your remarks out loud.
Don’t be afraid to show emotion.
It’s not typical for the school board to ask or answer questions during an Open Forum. Be prepared to give your remarks without comment from the school board members.
Be confident. This is your school district, and you have every right to be heard.
How to Speak
Step 1: Finding Your School Board’s Calendar
First you will need to visit your school district’s website and then go to the calendar and identify when there are upcoming meetings.
Step 2: Gathering information about your school board’s meetings
Reach out to your school board member, superintendent, or principal and find out what issues the school board will be discussing. Ask when the public will be able to weigh in on these issues and how the school board will share those details with the community. Ask where and how school board meeting minutes will be available.
Step 3: Registering to speak at a school board meeting
You will likely need to register to speak at the meeting. Sometimes this can be listed under “participation” or a similar option.
Many times school boards will have a deadline or a limit on how many speaking slots are available per meeting. Make sure you know when the sign-ups open so that you are ready to claim your spot.
Step 4: Preparing your remarks
You should be prepared to communicate clearly and directly and to share your story. Tell the board who you are and why you care.
Some school boards have a limit on how long your remarks can be. Make sure you practice so that you don’t get cut off.
Resolutions for School Boards
School boards are an important place for you to champion the voices of young people and families. One way to do this is through school board resolutions. Resolutions are a statement of policy or an order by the school board that a specific action be taken.
What should be in your resolution? You should consider what policies your school, district, or state has in place that can be supported by your school board. You should also consider what opportunities there are to update or create new policies. The Campaign for Our Shared Future has worked to develop resolutions strengthening parents’ and students’ rights, creating a student representative position on a local school board, and opposing radical state legislation that interferes with childrens’ education.
If you would like support choosing or modifying any of these resolutions, please contact: email@example.com