A parent’s first priority must always be to ensure their own child gets the education they deserve. With the options available today through digital learning, parents have more tools at their disposal than ever. (We discussed some of these in “5 Steps That Take 5 Minutes and Can Supercharge Your Child’s Education”)
But the work shouldn’t stop there. A parent’s voice—and the combined voices of many parents—can mean more and better options not only for your own child, but for the children in your community—and the next generation of students. Get involved and help your school become a digital leader. How? Here are four steps to get you started:
1. Become an expert. The best way to help your school is to study the possibilities through digital learning (flipped learning, blended learning, “bring your own device”, and so on) and look for solutions that would work for your school. Start by researching schools and programs that are achieving success, find out how they’re doing it, and what it would take in your district. One of the most effective ways to improve a school is to look to another, more successful school, pick up the phone, and start picking their brains. You might be surprised how eager innovators are to help other schools replicate their success. In our information-driven society, it’s not hard to become an expert. Here are some resources to help you get started:
2. Get to know your school leaders. Becoming an expert also means getting to know your local school and district, its history, and building relationships with its current leadership. Find out what reservations they have and why, what needs they struggle to meet, what might stand in the way of innovation, and so forth. As much as possible, work with your school leadership on ways that digital learning can be the solution. Additionally, by doing the research and making the connections, you are offering them a wealth of information and saving them a lot of valuable time. You can find your district website and contact information here.
3. Talk with other parents. By networking with other parents from your local school or district, you can better understand the issues your school community faces, share concerns, and build support for necessary reforms. Groups of parents can do a great deal when they are well informed and well-equipped to advocate for change. Which brings us to …
4. Become an advocate. School governance is designed so that parents have a voice. Do your research, get to know your school leaders, work with other parents, and become an advocate. This means attending school board meetings, meeting individually with school officials and board members, and generating discussion in the community about what needs to change. This might mean blogging, writing articles for your local paper, or holding a community forum. The more resistance you face, the more important it will be to involve the community. For help creating a movement in your community, contact the Citizen Action Network at the Freedom Foundation. Their experts will be happy to provide trainings and advice on how to effectively exercise your voice in your community.
Change doesn’t happen by itself. You have to be the agent. When push comes to shove, schools answer to parents. You have a voice. Use it!