Politics has been defined as the activities associated with the governance of a country or other area, especially the debate among individuals or parties hoping to achieve goals or success. Remember those remarkable words from President Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address “…government of the people, by the people, for the people…”
“All politics is local” – especially in education!
We all know the impact of the local Board of Education as it affects public education. The question may be if the members of the Boards of Education know? It seems they get wrapped around budget issues, hiring and then approving what the superintendent wants, approving policies, and approving extra-curricular concerns. It seems academic concerns such as curriculum to include library books often get overlooked. True, the school board must assure compliance with state & federal directives to the best of their ability. The school board should also listen to the citizens that elected them – especially the parents of those being educated. Similarly, they need to work with the teachers’ unions on matters of employment such as when and where the teachers teach, base pay, and benefits. The teacher unions should not be dictating what is taught!
So, the local school boards are the key cog in the leadership of local education.
The next school board elections may be way off in April, 2023. But, don’t be fooled as decision time is in December when nomination papers must be completed. The time is now to find good candidates – maybe yourself – and to lay the groundwork for a successful campaign. Potential candidates must begin now to learn more about the school district, the current board of education, the academic yardsticks evaluating the school district, the budget, and the informal leaders within the school district.
In the world of public education it seems “all politics is local” and the time to act is now!
Public Policy in Wisconsin Education
When considering the role of the local school board it may be thought that “all politics is local” but much of what happens in the school house reflects public policy from the State of Wisconsin (or the federal government). So, the question of the day is how do we as public tax-paying citizens stay current with and even impact public policy in education in Wisconsin?
The Wisconsin Legislature makes the laws and both our state Senators and Representatives represent us in Madison. The first step is to identify your State Senator and Representative and get on their newsletter mailing list. Let them know of your particular interest in public education, especially if they happen to be on their respective Education Committee. If your school district spans into another assembly district, make sure another conservative grass roots activist is communicating with each of the legislators with an interest in the school district. Keep these legislators informed of proposed bills that you are “for” or “against”. Ask questions about the state government’s impact on education and don’t be afraid to make suggestions for improvement. Voice your concerns!
The Vice Chairman of the Assembly Committee on Education recently shared this advice with me:
The best way to stay up-to-date on education is to sign up for the Wisconsin Legislature notification system. You can find that here: https://notify.legis.wisconsin.gov/login?ReturnUrl=%2f
You can use the keyword of “education” and you will receive notifications whenever anything comes up that is tied to education.
This should keep you well informed of all educational issues being considered at the Capitol. It will provide opportunities to attend, or even testify at, pertinent committee hearings. Another local concerned citizen and I testified on legislation about Critical Race Theory last year and I testified about the transgender bathroom issue about six years ago. (That too was an education!)
While the politics of education appears to be primarily local, the awareness of what is happening at the State Capitol is helpful to your success. Local public education will benefit from an involved and informed citizenry.