As an elected school board member, you work every day as an advocate for public education in your community. At each board meeting, decisions that affect the lives and education of children are made as you determine the needs of the students and families you are accountable to. But are those the needs being communicated to your elected representatives?
School board members are charged with the responsibility and duty to communicate the needs of public education. Because you have been elected to ensure the success of public education in your community, you are in an excellent position to inform and influence policymakers on public education issues. School board members’ participation in the legislative process is vital to encourage support for local decision-making, oppose unfunded mandates and adequately fund public education–just to name a few important issues.
As a school board member, you can make a difference and have a significant impact on the legislative process. Remember, as an elected representative, you share a common bond with legislators and members of Congress–the same constituents that elected them have elected you. But, like you, legislators cannot read their constituents minds. They must hear from you and your board about how legislative decisions will impact the students in your classrooms.
The Arkansas School Boards Association (ASBA) has put together a toolkit to encourage and assist you in influencing education policy. Being involved in the legislative process does not have to be intimidating and, in fact, it is surprisingly simple to make your voice heard by your legislators when you make advocacy a year-round part of your service as a school board member. This toolkit and other resources developed by ASBA, along with the development of your own board’s legislative strategy, you can strengthen your political voice and make a difference in the lives of Arkansas’s students.