2024 Newsletter 4 – Don’t Wait to Advocate!
News2024 Newsletter 4 – Don’t Wait to Advocate!

I am often asked by school board members about the importance of advocacy and the impact it has on K-12 education. School board members play a critical role in advocating for their local school division. The advocacy efforts of school board members not only impact the outcomes of students and teachers within your division, but also are vital to preserving local control of school division operations in the Commonwealth.

The advocacy you undertake within your local school division greatly assists the efforts of the Virginia School Boards Association Government Relations team. It is often mentioned by legislators to the team when they have heard from a member of their local school board or when a member visits them in Richmond. The information you share with legislators is invaluable as not every Senator or Delegate is an expert on K-12 education. If they do not hear from you, they will hear from someone else making it imperative to share your stories.

In this past session of the Virginia General Assembly, nearly one-third of the membership had served less than two terms as members of the Senate of Virginia and Virginia House of Delegates. This fresh blood in both chambers of the legislative branch requires local school board members to engage their delegations and educate them on the issues facing public education. As local leaders and representatives of your communities, school board member voices are powerful in the corridors of the Capitol and have shaped pending legislation for many years.

An effective strategy to connect with your Delegate and Senator is to invite them to your schools. To encourage such advocacy efforts, each November, the Virginia School Boards Association promotes Take Your Legislators to School Month. This allows you to showcase your local division and creates a lowkey environment for discussion about positive outcomes within your division and provides an opportunity for you to express the challenges your students and staff encounter each day. Please watch your emails for information regarding the VSBA Take Your Legislator to School Month initiative later this summer!

However, you do not have to wait until November to invite legislators to your schools. Back-to-School is an exciting time in every community. You may consider having members of the General Assembly participate in your opening activities with staff and students. Another opportunity is to have legislators bring updates from Richmond during the legislative session while they are home in their district. A Saturday morning Town Hall meeting with your legislators can be very beneficial for your division during the legislative session. Finally, having a post-legislative session event with your legislators allows the community to hear directly from members of the General Assembly on their thoughts from session and how it will impact public education.

The possibilities are endless when it involves bringing legislators to your schools. Do not be afraid to be creative and thank outside the box. Your legislators want to know what is happening in your school division. If there is anything I can be of assistance in planning advocacy efforts with your local school board, please do not hesitate to contact me by calling VSBA at (434) 295-8722 or by email jason@vsba.org