Monday, November 14, 2016

Reminder: November is "VSBA Take Your Legislator to School" Month

During the month of November, we urge each school division in the state to invite at least one of their state legislators to visit their schools this month. There are many benefits from participating in “VSBA Take Your Legislator to School” Month, including developing closer relationships between school divisions, local communities and our elected officials, and creating opportunities for productive dialogue so that educational and political leaders can work together to ensure that we provide the best possible education for our students.

VSBA encourages school divisions to choose an area of focus for your legislative visits. For example, you may decide to focus on workforce readiness or CTE programs at your schools. This will allow you to emphasize certain aspects and programs in the division that you are most proud of or wish to highlight. Also, don’t forget to share some the challenges your school division is facing. Use this time to build a relationship, have an open dialogue, and share your personal stories about public education and your school division.

You can find the TYLTSM Guide on the VSBA website, which includes quick tips/suggestions, a sample invitation letter, a sample press release, and a proclamation from the VSBA Board of Directors. During the last few weeks of November, we ask that you please share photos of your legislative visits on social media and with VSBA so that we can use them in future publications.

Thank you for your continued commitment and hard work as leaders, advocates, and supporters of public education.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Engage the Business Community as Leaders, Supporters and Advocates for Public Education

We all know what the data is showing; the United States has a skills gap in our workforce. We’ve also heard Virginia policymakers talk about the important role that education plays in economic development. During the 2016 General Assembly session, legislators passed a bill that will work to redesign high schools and create the Profile of a Virginia Graduate. Educators and business leaders wholly supported this initiative and now the Board of Education is working hard to develop these reforms to better position Virginia’s students in the global economy. This is just one example of how business and education can work together for bi-partisan education reforms. 

Over the past few years, we have encouraged local school boards to engage the business community as leaders, supporters and advocates of public education and we need you to continue that conversation. The business community can be your key partners in education and, if they are appropriately informed, they can serve as advocates for your school division within your community and at the General Assembly. 

Before the start of the 2017 General Assembly session, we encourage you to meet with your Chamber of Commerce, economic development association and local business owners. Invite them to attend and present at your school board meeting to share their work, host a business roundtable, or visit your schools to highlight your CTE programs. Discuss your successes and challenges, look for ways that they can partner with your students and schools and listen to their needs as local business owners. Whether it’s providing financial resources for a specific program, mentoring students, or being a vocal supporter of public education, business leaders can make a positive impact. To assist with your advocacy efforts, please utilize the VSBA Grassroots Advocacy Guide for potential policy topics to discuss and good questions to ask when engaging with business leaders. 

Thank you for your continued support of VSBA’s advocacy initiatives. Your voice makes a difference for your students and your schools. Take time to advocate for your students, teachers, and community and engage with local business leaders today!