5 school board advocacy tips for parents and caregivers

Learn how to advocate effectively at school board meetings. Use these tips to make a difference in your child’s education by having a say in the decisions that matter most.

By Julie Rawe

Expert reviewed by Lindsay Jones, JD

Your local school board makes decisions about things like budgets and teacher training. Those decisions can affect your child’s education. By speaking up, parents and caregivers can influence these decisions. Use these tips to get started.

1. Find out what your school board meetings are like.

To understand the structure of board meetings, try to go to one or two. You can also sign up for the board’s email list. School boards have to post the agenda for each meeting ahead of time. Knowing which topics they plan to discuss can help you get your talking points ready.

2. Look for an ally on the board.

Before you raise an issue at a board meeting, try to find a board member who’s interested in engaging parents or meeting students’ needs. (One way to do this is to read news stories about board elections or meetings.) Most districts post each member’s contact information online.

3. Look for other parents to join you in speaking up.

Seek out local parents and caregivers whose kids have similar challenges. Tell them you plan to speak about a particular issue and encourage them to join you. Here are some groups that could help you find supportive parents:

  • Your district’s special education parent committee (often called SEPAC, SECAC, or SEPTA)
  • Parent organizations like your school’s PTA or PTO
  • Neighborhood or cultural groups

4. Reach out to a local teachers’ group.

Many schools encourage teachers to develop professional learning communities (PLCs). These groups help teachers collaborate and learn from each other. PLCs are often interested in efforts to get more resources or training to help teachers better support their students.

5. Prepare your remarks.

Find out how long you’ll get to speak at the meeting, and practice your remarks using a timer. Bring the issue to life by talking about your child. It’s also good to try to include a statistic on how many kids are affected.

If you know others who are planning to speak, you can work together to make sure you cover key points. Let the board know if anyone needs an interpreter or needs board materials translated.

Looking for more advocacy tips? Learn more about advocating for your child at school.

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