School choice requires an active engagement in politics. This does not mean dipping a toe in the proverbial pond of politics, but actively engaging in local and state politics and calling its school community to involvement as well.
We need to pay attention to any funding source upon which a school relies, whether that funding comes from tuition-paying parents, charitable giving, a sponsoring church, and even government-based parental choice programs. Each of these funding sources brings with it unique concerns and constraints. Parents often believe they own a part of the operation of the school because they write a tuition check. Fundraising efforts often require the hiring of a development director and usually take inordinate amounts of time to build relationships, along with making the funding case by key school leaders. Church-sponsored schools have to work out the shared space and cost conundrums of which classrooms get used on Sunday and who pays for the maintenance of the facilities. Likewise, schools that participate in school choice programs need to be paying proper attention to the government relations that have say over those programs.
What does being actively involved look like? It’s key to remember that all four funding models are relationship-based. If the only time your elected officials hear from you is when you are in opposition to something they are doing, you aren’t building relationships. You are building walls. Here are some thoughts on how to positively engage in politics as a school:
Invite an elected official to your school for a festival, a sporting event, or to speak at chapel. Public officials love schools because they are full of parents (voters). While they are there, tell them the success stories and have parents share their stories.