With over 40 school districts in Utah it can be challenging to know how to impact education issues. That’s why we asked Action Utah Issue Captain, Ashley Anderson, to give us these pointers and help us become better education advocates.
1. Advocate locally first
Even though many issues affect all public schools, it is within our own local districts where we can make the most impact when it comes to actions like changing curriculum or changing dress codes.
- First contact your district and state school board representatives with your concerns. You can find who represents you and how to contact them by clicking here, entering your address, then clicking on “Elected Officials”.
2. Next, bring the issue up the ladder
Depending on the responses you get from your district and state board reps, springboard off their ideas by contacting your district and state superintendents or other staff who may help with specific issues (i.e. an equity office).
- Use this Utah School District contact list to call your local district for contact information of district superintendents and other officials, or look up your own district’s webpage online. Find the state superintendents listed here.
Example #1: Impacting racism in Utah public schools
Let’s say, for example, that you are concerned about the recent incidents of racism in Davis and Weber School Districts, but live outside those district boundaries. Contacting Davis and Weber district offices doesn’t make a lot of sense when the problems may also be happening more quietly in your own district.
What could you do?
Write to your district school board and state school board representatives. You might say:
“I’m a parent/community member/student in SCHOOL DISTRICT NAME. I’m worried about the incidents of racism happening in Weber and Davis Districts. What is our district policy about comparable incidents and how can I work with SCHOOL NAME to make sure our curriculum is inclusive and teaches not only tolerance but respect for the cultures that make up our school.”
“I’m a parent/community member/student in SCHOOL DISTRICT NAME who is worried about Betsy DeVos’ decision to remove guidance documents that help public schools serve disabled students. How can I make sure that SCHOOL NAME is in compliance with these recommendations even if they aren’t recommended federally?”
Follow up on these messages by communicating with a District or State Superintendent. Also look at ways to help in your own school by joining a School Community Council (SCC) or Parent Teacher Organization (PTO) that often drives local solutions to national problems.
Example #2: Impacting protections for disabled students
When Betsy DeVos rescinded guidelines for protecting and serving disabled students in schools, don’t resort to calling your Members of Congress when you can contact your own local school district and advocate for them to keep protections in place for disabled students.
Knowing who to contact when is half the battle of advocacy. Follow these simple tips, and you will make a more meaningful impact on education issues!