School Bureaucracy IV: Be A Positive Voice For A Change

Last time we talked about school bureaucracy and how parents and teachers can put themselves in a position to influence policies and decisions. Today we’ll discuss other ways to be a positive voice for change.

Parents can become a positive voice in the school in lots of different ways. Volunteer regularly, join the parent/teacher organization, attend programs and events, come to conferences, express appreciation, support your child’s education at home, learn names and let school staff learn yours. I cannot emphasize this enough – if you want to be effective in offering ideas and expressing concerns, you have to be an active, positive member of the school community.

Teachers can also work to become a positive voice in the school community. Do you whine and complain, talk negatively about the children in your class, gossip about other staff members, and do the bare minimum? We have all known a few teachers like that – and if it describes you, you need to think about becoming part of the solution instead of being part of the problem. Say positive things to others. Refuse to engage in gossip and negativity. Support your colleagues. Offer solutions. It’s really easy to become apathetic and cynical – and it’s hard to be a great teacher. Don’t give up!

Anyone who is interested in school change has to get involved in the politics of public education. Vote for the school board and regularly attend school board meetings. Check out what the candidates for state legislature or governor have to say about public education. Attend county commission meetings when the school budget is discussed. Stay abreast of what’s happening with the reauthorization of No Child Left Behind and other federal programs. Communicate your opinions to the legislators who represent you at the local, state, and federal levels. Keep track of where the money comes from and what the money flows to. Remember that it’s your money!

Here’s a summary of steps that parents and teachers can take to work within the bureaucracy to make positive changes:

  • Volunteer to work on any school committee that offers advice, makes goals, or sets policy – either at the system level or the building level.
  • Do what it takes to become a positive voice in the school community.  Be the change you want to see!
  • Spend your time and energy on positive solutions. Anger and hostility are self-defeating and will not impact the bureaucracy. Stay in partnership with those in the school community who can effect change.       Listen and consider the opinions of others with the same courtesy you expect in return.
  • Be an informed, active citizen. Learn about candidates. Vote! Go to budget meetings. Express opinions – but do your homework and know what you’re talking about.

Bureaucracies resist change – it’s their nature. So those who want to see change have to be in it for the long haul – it requires patience, tolerance, and the ability to work on a long-term goal. Sometimes you have to stay in partnership with those you disagree with – so be it. It’s the only way to have a voice. Be positive, be informed, actively participate, and work from within. Good luck!

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