Telling the Public About Public Schools

By Nora Carr

Free, open, and accessible to all students, public schools represent democracy in action. As befits a democracy, the leadership of those schools -- boards of education -- is elected by their communities.

School board members have one mission: to provide the best education possible for all children. Accessible and accountable to parents and the public, school boards make decisions that affect every important aspect of public schooling. The nation’s 90,000 school board members log millions of volunteer hours each year. With time served far exceeding any compensation received, school board members govern a $432 billion industry for a pittance.

With so much at stake, taking public understanding and support for granted would be foolhardy at best. I’d be willing to bet that most parents, let alone most voters, don’t understand the difference between public and charter schools, or why having publicly accountable trustees of public schools matters.

Maintaining a seat at the decision-making table matters -- for us, for our children, and for our future, so we need to do a better job of communicating what we do and how we work.

Since positive public perception of public schools often begins and ends with how school boards conduct the public’s business, here are effective, low-cost ways you can remind your community to “stay local.”

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