Why Invite Elected Officials to Your School
February 22, 2013 Your charter school is also an asset to your community, providing a high quality education, enrichment and safety for students and jobs for teachers, school leaders and other staff. Many local and state elected officials may not be familiar with charter schools, so take the opportunity to show them the good things happening at your school. Let them know what your school needs to become even more successful and find out ways you can partner with them. Here are four reasons why you should invite local leaders to visit.
A famous quote by Confucius says, "I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand." A visit to your school helps school board members, city officials and state legislators see firsthand how their decisions affect students and teachers. They will remember their visit when they have to make decisions in the future.
It's all about relationships. Newly elected officials are working hard to get to know their constituents. Veteran elected officials may be considering a run for higher office. Get to know these decision-makers now and regularly invite them to school events. You never know when you will need to pick up the phone and ask for support for your school. Your local leaders are more likely to listen to you if they have had a chance to get to know you and the parents at your school.
Be a myth-buster. Have you heard your school board representative say she supports public schools, but has concerns about charter schools? Is a local newspaper columnist promoting the misconception that charter schools do not have to hire credentialed teachers? A visit to your school is the perfect opportunity to dispel the myths. You can explain where your funding comes from or talk about the qualifications and expertise of your teachers.
Meet the parents. As a school leader, you bring an important perspective to any interaction you have with an elected official, but don't leave out another key group of people: Parents. The parents at your school trust you with the most precious person in their lives, their children. Let them lead a visit with local leaders and give them time to explain why they chose your school. These personal stories make a powerful, lasting impression on decision-makers. It's easy to forget facts, but it's hard to forget the people who are willing to tell their stories.
Did you know that Families That Can has a Director of Family and Community Engagement in your region to help you organize a visit with your local or state legislator? Get help deciding who to invite, when to invite them and what you want to share. Families That Can will also come to your school and provide information and training to parent leaders so that they are prepared to be valuable assets during a school visit. It's never too late to extend an invitation to your local leaders!