A new school year offers Michigan parents a new chance to engage
Here’s how to follow the goings-on in your school and school district
Recently we received an email from a reader asking us what that person can do to ensure government is serving citizens its proper capacity.
There are proactive measures public school parents can take to ensure students are being properly educated. Parents and schools must be partners in guiding a child’s education. This can prevent bad blood if there are disagreements over a child’s education.
Most parents get to know their children’s teachers and other staff at school. Parents should also get to know the district’s school board members. School boards develop the district’s annual budget, set school policies and oversee the superintendent.
Respectfully engage board members if you have questions regarding their decisions. You can do this through a phone call, email, or a school board meeting.
If an issue arises, address it with facts, not accusations. It is easy to become emotionally charged when it comes to our children, but level heads tend to prevail. Good rapport between parents and school officials helps alleviate acrimony when an issue does arise.
Attend school board meetings, even if a hot topic is not on the agenda. Stay informed on all of the issues. There may be a concern you were not aware of because it was not detailed on the agenda, but it may be discussed at a meeting anyway.
Parents began showing up to school board meetings in greater numbers during the COVID-19 pandemic. They learned that schools were requiring students to wear masks for more than eight hours per day and to socially distance from their friends. Once the parents were engaged, they became aware of other issues, including what a majority of Americans consider irrelevant or inappropriate curricula.
CapCon reported on a similar situation at Grand Ledge Public Schools in 2021. Parents showed up to voice their opposition to masking and addressed concerns that critical race theory was being taught. The meetings were acrimonious and a school board president accused the parents of a mini-January 6 insurrection. A school board member came forward to say this did not happen and video from the meeting absolved the parents.
Because of the accusation, however, Grand Ledge parents were cited in an infamous letter from the National School Board Association asking federal law enforcement agencies to investigate parents who attend the meetings. The letter has and since been removed, but ill will between parents and the school district persists. Had the president of the school board stuck with facts, there would have been a better outcome.
If you cannot attend a meeting due to work or other reasons, often people will record the meetings and post them to social media. Inquire if that is something available in your district.
If there are concerns that are not being addressed, or parents think they are not getting enough information, use the Freedom of Information Act. If there is a legitimate concern and submitting a FOIA request is too costly or you need assistance, you can ask CapCon for help. My email address is printed below. If we believe an issue needs to be investigated, we will submit a FOIA request to the school to retrieve the necessary information.
You can also submit FOIA requests for curricula. If you are concerned about what your student is learning, the FOIA can help clarify what is being taught.
Jamie A. Hope is assistant managing editor at Michigan Capitol Confidential. Email her at email@example.com.
Michigan Capitol Confidential is the news source produced by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Michigan Capitol Confidential reports with a free-market news perspective.