Nevada Association of School Boards
School board members make up the largest body of elected officials in the nation. According to a board member from the Northeast, “We have to realize and take advantage of the fact that we have clout. We are the people. We are the local level at which elections are won or lost. Our recommendations count.”
This clout, combined with the influence and support of state and national organizations, has significant impact in the marbled halls of state and federal government. But it is earned and maintained in your own backyard, in your school district.
School board members are advocates for education. An advocate is essentially a communicator. In order to clearly present your views and those of your community and constituents to legislators, you have to develop certain communication skills: being informed, cordial, respectful, practical, honest, realistic, and political.
When working with others to build coalitions to advocate for the schools, bear these four factors in mind as described in “Becoming a Better Board Member” (Third, p. 290).
CONSISTENCY—Focus on one issue, and make sure everyone agrees on the message and the goal. An easy way to make sure that everyone is singing the same tune is to have coalition members sign a letter or resolution to legislators that specifically outlines the coalition’s position.
COMMITMENT—Make getting involved easy for your coalition partners. The easier it is for them, the more likely they will help out.
COMMUNICATION—Keep in touch with your allies by fax, phone, or e-mail. You can work effectively with groups or individuals, even if you rarely see them face-to-face.
COMPROMISE—Sometimes bringing diverse groups together for a common goal requires compromise along the say. Decide where you have some flexibility that does not compromise your overall. Compromising on some points that are not truly important to you can gain you the strength of numbers and a coalition of diverse partners.
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