We’ve all grown accustomed to the school board vs. parent fights that continually pop up in the news.
Schools implement a controversial policy, followed by the expected immediate pushback from parents. And in most of these cases, parents are rightfully angry about what their child’s school is putting in place.
Parents will do anything to protect their kids. They have no problem fighting back. That’s why in districts across the nation, parents are working to recall school board members.
But what happens when a new person gets elected to the school board and they’re actually… good?
In Bedford County, Virginia this past November, a new school board candidate won a seat away from a previously-elected school board member. What’s more, the defeated incumbent happened to be the chair of the board. This candidate, Matthew Holbrook, along with fellow winning candidate Dwayne Nelms, were write-ins.
Yeah, you read that right. Write-ins.
They weren’t even officially on the ballot.
That’s an incredible testament to the power of the movement parents are spearheading nationwide. Write-in winners mean people were not only paying attention to what was happening in the community, but people were passionately spreading the word.
Holbrook’s campaign advocated for parents’ rights and prioritizing students. Obviously, voters resonated with his message.
Hopefully, your district got some good school board members this past election! Or maybe your school district already has some admirable members who have stood on strong principles through the educational crises rocking schools over the past few years.
If you finally have some good school members in office, how do you support them? Where do we go from here to ensure that the school policies put in place actually benefit our kids?
Well, we’ve come up with the top three ways you can support good school board members—or any school board member, for that matter!
1. Write a thank-you note
Nothing shows your appreciation better than a simple card. Yes, you can send cards to elected officials!
In fact, thank-you notes need to go to elected officials that you appreciate. After all, when citizens contact an elected official, it’s typically to complain. It’ll be refreshing for them to receive something positive for a change.
Believe it or not, thank-you cards have a much greater impact than you might think.
Time pointed out that writers of thank-you cards tend to feel awkward or they think the recipient won’t really care anyway. In actuality, recipients are elated to get thank-you cards as long as the writer is genuine. Not only are recipients happy to get a thank-you note, but the writers felt happy in return.
So, what are you waiting for? Write that thank-you!
How to write a thank-you card
Here are some quick tips from Postable on writing a professional thank-you card:
- Start with a simple salutation and keep it respectful. When writing a school board member, one way to address them is by writing “The Honorable” and then their full name. It may seem very formal, but it’s better to err on the side of being too respectful, especially when you’re starting off the letter and you don’t know the person. They’ll likely appreciate the formal title anyway! If that seems overboard, you can always simply put the title “School Board Member” before their name or use the appropriate title such as Mr., Mrs., or Miss.
- Example: “The Honorable John Smith…” or “School Board Member Johnson”
- Get to the point
- No need to waste time! Let them know right away that you’re thanking them.
- “Thank you for standing strong on this school policy…”
- Add a relevant detail or two to show your appreciation
- Don’t drone on and on. Your school board member’s time is precious (and frankly, yours is too!). Use a few sentences to share the direct impact that’s they’ve made on your and/or your family.
- If you’re simple and direct, the school board member will better understand the meaning of your message (and will likely read the whole thing as opposed to skipping over something lengthy!)
- “This school policy has allowed my child to excel because…”
- Find something to look forward to
- Depending on your relationship, you might not be able to say something like “I can’t wait to see you soon.” But you could mention that you’re anticipating seeing a positive outcome for the school.
- “I’m excited to see how this school policy will impact our school for the better…”
- Thank them again and sign off
- It doesn’t hurt to thank them a second time as a final note. This will bring their attention back to the reason you wrote them in the first place.
- End the letter professionally. A simple “Sincerely” and your name will do.
It’s easy to feel intimidated when writing a thank-you card to anyone—let alone an elected official. These tips will help you know where to start and how to effectively get your point across.
Elected officials are plagued with criticism, so a thank-you card will probably make their day!
(For additional tips on writing elected officials, check out our post Why You Should Write a Letter to Your Representative)
How to mail your letter to the school board
Now that you’ve got your stellar thank-you card, the next part is crucial— actually sending it to them!
An online search should quickly lead you to your school district’s website. Include your state in your search, since there might be other school districts with the same name in other states.
Once you’ve made it to your school district’s website, you might have to do a little digging to find the school board’s information. Somewhere within the site, there should be a section titled “school board,” or “administration” where you can find contact information for your school board members.
While you may not find direct mailing addresses for every member, there should be at least one address for the whole board. If not, there will be a school address where you can send the note. Just be sure to address your envelope to the member that it’s for! If you have trouble finding the right information, call your school’s administration office and ask for help.
After you’ve proofread your note and you’re sure you’ve found the right address, send that card!
2. Share your support at a school board meeting
Not only can you write a card to be encouraging, but you can also show your public support for school board members.
Much like expressing your concerns at a school board meeting (which we highly recommend, by the way!), you can approach showing support the same way.
You can show approval at meetings by:
- Voicing your support
- Parents Defending Education says you’ll want to prepare ahead of time if you’re planning on speaking up at a meeting. Sign up on your school district’s website, prepare some statements, and get ready to share your story! Let them know if you’re in favor of an existing or potential school policy or that you appreciate the school board members!
- Making signs with brief encouraging messages
- Reinforce what you say with a sign. Signs don’t need to be complicated; they’re a simple way to show people what you believe. Most people are visual learners, so your point may stick better if they can see it!
Whether you want to voice opposition or support, parents must attend school board meetings. If you can’t make every meeting, find a group of other parents willing to rotate attendance so there will always be parents represented.
Our kids’ educations are on the line, so it’s vital to hold schools accountable. That includes showing your support for what’s right with the school.
3. Get involved at the school
What better way to show your appreciation for the good work done by school board members than giving back to the school? Teaming up for the good of the community demonstrates that you are all on the same team: giving back to the kids.
PTO Today references a study that sums up the win-win scenario that occurs when parents step up: “When parents are involved in their children’s education at home, they do better in school. And when parents are involved in school, children go farther in school and the schools they go to are better.”
Research shows that parental involvement leads to student success and better parent-teacher relationships, which in turn benefits the school. And a good school makes for a happy school board!
Some practical ways for you to get involved include:
- Attending back-to-school orientations
- Going to school events
- Volunteering—find out where your school needs help by asking your child’s teacher
- Attending parent-teacher meetings
Showing up shows that you care, leading to positive changes for everyone in the school. And the school board member you’re supporting will thank you for it!
The Bottom Line
We’ve seen a recent surge in parents voicing concerns at school board meetings—and the same should go for showing support. After all, if something’s working, don’t we want to keep it that way?
Let’s show our new board members that they’re not alone.
Are you passionate about changing America’s education for the better? Running for school board might be for you! Learn how to campaign for school board and win through our free Introduction to School Boards course.
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