The definition of "power" is the ability to act. Many times the word can be intimidating. I want you to stop and think of all the things that come to mind when you hear or read the word power. You may be thinking authority, money, police officers—the list is endless! But did you ever picture yourself on the list I just provided? What if I told you that you hold the greatest power over your child’s education or public education generally? There are three important ways you as a parent, guardian or just a concerned community member can exercise that power.
See if you child's school has a school council and join it.
In California, it is required that every school have a school site council, composed of school leadership, teachers and parents. Being voted onto the governing board will give you the ability to not only contribute to the school’s student achievement plan but it will give you the power to vote for important changes and implementations of the school’s improvement program. This is one way you can ensure that your voice is being heard when making important decisions to improve education at your child’s school. If you are interested in getting involved, ask your child’s school about their school site council!
Vote and encourage others to go out and vote during School Board Elections
This is one of the most important ways you can exercise your voice and your power! Board members are leaders of public education in our communities and are elected to represent your students’ needs. They are elected and appointed every four years by you. If you are not eligible to vote, you still hold so much power! You have the power of voice, a recorrer la voz! Encouraging family and friends who are eligible to get registered, get to know the candidates and their priorities and learn how you can help during elections and campaigns. Candidate priorities can include school choice, federal funding, hiring and training high-quality teachers, increasing graduation rates and more. Find your local election information and look out for school board elections!
Keeping School Board Members Accountable
Did you know that you can contact your local school board member? Or that you can attend school board meetings and give a public testimony to make sure your voice is heard? School board members are champions and leaders of public education in your community. They are able to sit in office because community members like yourself voted or encouraged others to vote to keep them there. You are trusting that they will do everything they can to make sure they adopt policies and budgets that will provide our children with a high-quality education. How will they know what is working or needed at our schools? You meet with them or you provide a public testimony during public meetings! The biggest power you have is to keep the people you voted into office accountable and ensure that they are keeping their promises and doing everything in their power to serve all students. Holding public officials accountable in improving public education in your local community is extremely powerful. Remember, your voice matters and board members don’t get to hear the voice of the community as often as they should!
These are just three of the many ways you can exercise your parent or community power. Public education isn’t an easy task to take on, but having power means you have the ability to act. Acting by getting involved on campus, being civically engaged and keeping elected officials accountable can be the beginning of creating positive change in our public school system. Don’t be afraid of power, acknowledge it, embrace it and use it!
Melissa Albarenga is the Community Engagement Manager at KIPP Bay Area Schools, where she provides families with the resources and tools they need to advocate for their children’s education and other important local initiatives. Through her work she hopes to activate power within each parent and/or guardian. Her ultimate dream is that all children will have access to high quality education no ...