Recent research shows that boards of education have a significant impact on student achievement in their districts and that across the nation there is a low percentage of parents – especially in vulnerable communities – that are not engaged with their local boards of education.
Through Way to Grow’s “My Voice Matters” initiative, this past week our parents learned not only the ins and outs of the Minneapolis Board of Education but also who each director was, the history of education in Minneapolis, and how each of them could be proactive in local education policy-making.
Local boards of education (also known as school boards, school committees, school directors, or trustees) are elected—or occasionally appointed—to be leaders and champions for public education in their communities and states.
The most important responsibility of the board of education is to work with their communities to improve student achievement in their local public schools. Boards of education derive their power and authority from the state. In compliance with state and federal laws, school boards establish policies and regulations by which their local schools are governed.
Last Friday, Way to Grow had 13 parents attend a training that was led by a member of the board, Director Jenny Arneson. While Director Arneson did encourage involvement, she did explain the lines and differences between the board and the schools. She explained that if a parent actually has a direct issue with their child’s education, they actually should call their child’s school and that the board of education is more of a “bigger picture and governance entity.”
Putting what they learned into action, 12 Way to Grow parents along with 5 staff members attended the Minneapolis Board of Education meeting last night where various issues were discussed and voted on. “It is not only important for us to teach them every aspect when it comes to local education and policy-making, but also be there with them in case they have any questions,” said Way to Grow Program Director Megan McLaughlin. “It is really up to them to take it from there to advocate for their child’s education as a concerned parent/private citizen.”
My Voice Matters is a parent engagement and advocacy initiative with the goal of involving parents in advocacy and empowering them to make the right choices for their children. Programming includes Parent Voices listening sessions, parent trainings, and advocacy events throughout the year.