You can talk all day over coffee about the changes you'd like to see at your school. Unless you're saying it to someone who can make a difference, your opinions will last as long as your caramel macchiato.
So who's your go-to guy or girl? Your school board. Though less familiar to you than, say, your kiddo's fourth grade teacher, the folks on school boards play a big role in determining the fate of your school. So talk to them!
Call or Email Your School Board
You can find the contact information for your district's school board on the school's website. Try to be patient though: schools don't always have the funds to make their sites savvy and streamlined. You might have to dig a bit, but don't let the 1992 clip art get you down; you'd rather schools put their money toward education anyway, right?
Most sites publish a general email address. Some publish contact info for every board member. If that's the case, select the person who seems most appropriate for your query, and email him/her directly. Avoid emailing every person on the list.
In your email, be clear about who you are (parent, community member, etc) and why you are writing. In the subject line, write something specific; for example, "Question regarding Thursday's meeting" or "Interested in Volunteering at Fundraiser."
Before calling a board member, plan what you will say. Decide what you hope to get from the conversation, and make a list of questions you may have.
Tip: If you can't find a school board phone number or email address online, don't despair: you can call your school and ask for the contact info. Keep in mind that your school is one of many that the board oversees; so it's better to go straight to the source if you can.
Attend a School Board Meeting
School board meetings are open to everyone, not just parents. Attending board meetings will help you learn more about how decisions are made in your district, and how you can play a role in that process. If you want to attend, look on your school's website for a meeting schedule.
If you're hoping to raise an issue with the school board, consider going to more than one meeting. Showing up once to air a grievance may gain a measure of attention, but to be effective, you should demonstrate that your support and commitment to the school is ongoing, not a fleeting moment of frustration.
Tip: If you get a chance to address the school board, be prepared with any information or visuals you may need; school boards usually meet just once a month, so time is valuable.
Vote for School Board Members
Board members are responsible for representing the communities they serve. One of the most important investments you can make in determining the future of your school is showing up to vote.
School board elections happen annually, usually in November. Keep an eye out to learn if a seat is opening up, then spend some time researching candidates.
Tip: If you find a candidate you really like, remember: candidates are always in need of campaign volunteers. If you have the time, consider volunteering.
Telephone photo: psd/Creative Commons via Flickr
Ballot photo: NineInchNachosIV/Creative Commons via Flickr