- "Effective Advocacy for School Leaders: Nine Steps to Effective Advocate for Public Schools" Guide (pdf). This resource is full of information to help you learn about advocacy at different levels of government, keeping your community engaged and contacting legislators.
- "Advocacy Toolkit" (pdf) based on the "Nine Steps." This toolkit and accompanying plan template (word doc) is designed to be used with any size group as a step-by-step process to creating an advocacy plan for your community. Use it as a board, with site councils, with community groups, with PTOs or PTAs, with students' any group who has something to say!
- Excel data base provides a way to quickly create a data-sheet about your district. We suggest you use this with "Step 2" in the "Advocacy Toolkit" as you prepare to tell your school's story to your community and legislators.
What is advocacy?"The board serves as education's key advocates on behalf of students and their schools in the community in order to advance the community's vision for its schools, pursue its goals, encourage progress, energize systemic change, and deal with children as whole persons in a diversified society."
In the broadest sense, advocacy means any effort to advance or defend the interest of an individual or group. To put more simply, it means trying to get what you want for yourself or someone else. When there is not enough resources to go around or when people disagree on the conduct of their relationships, conflict occurs. Advocacy is usually defined as taking place within the political or governmental sector: the legislative process, executive agencies and the courts. This is because government has the ultimate responsibility to resolve these conflicts by passing and enforcing laws; committing public resources; defining rights and obligations; and deciding guilt or innocence, punishment or remedy."The Local School Board and the New Realities," National School Boards Association
Why is school board advocacy important?Because local boards of education are part of the political system in Kansas and because school board members are elected officials, board members may see themselves as the people making the decisions, instead of trying to influence the decisions. There are a number of reasons why school board members cannot function effectively if they ignore the larger political environment. The Kansas Constitution charges the Kansas State Board of Education with the "general supervision" of schools and other education interests of the state.
- Although the Kansas Constitution requires public schools be "managed, developed and operated by locally elected boards," school boards do not have "self-executing" powers. School board authority is granted by the Legislature. Recent changes in state statute allow local school boards the flexibility to have local control. They can maximize their functions and operate more efficiently by doing things that are not specifically prohibited by law.
- Local school boards do not have independent authority to raise revenue. The Legislature decides what kind of taxes or fees school boards can impose and defines the tax base on which school taxes are levied. The Legislature also imposes controls on school district budgets and spending.
- State and federal laws and regulations have a great impact on the management and operation of school districts. For example, a few of the areas affected include: employee rights, benefits and working conditions, building and transportation safety codes, student and staff civil rights, and investment and accounting practices.
- The primary responsibility of schools is to educate students. But neither schools nor children exist in a vacuum. Other institutions also touch the lives of children. Local governments deal with the safety of a child's walk to and from school, or the provision of health services. Other agencies deal with children whose families cannot or will not support them. Disadvantaged or disabled children may need help the school alone cannot provide.