Identifying Key Stakeholders
Building on a foundational understanding of military-connected students’ unique needs, School Liaisons should identify key stakeholders that have the most potential to help achieve the shared goals around supporting military-connected children. School Liaisons should consider developing relationships with the following organizations and individuals as part of their network building and advocacy:
Local teachers have the best on-the-ground understanding about what is happening in their schools and oftentimes offer key support and develop significant relationships with military- connected students.
School leaders, such as principals or deans, can also be influential partners in supporting military-connected children. School Liaisons may find that school leaders can solve problems at the school level without going the extra step of changing the larger policies themselves.
District-level administrators, particularly superintendents, often have an important presence in the local community. Building a relationship with the superintendent and other district-level administrators who have authority over budgetary decisions, as well as teacher-related regulations and implementation, can also lead to knowing education supporters from other sectors of the local community.
The local school board is an important platform for sharing and obtaining knowledge. School boards create policy and generally have public comment periods where important policies, issues, and resources are discussed. School Liaisons can utilize this forum to raise concerns or share information about the needs of military-connected students.
Some education funding or policy decisions (for merged city-county districts or rural districts) may be in the hands of a county commission, council, or board of supervisors. These officials generally exercise significant legislative and executive power and budgetary authority. It’s best to target public comment periods and outreach to individual council members, commissioners, supervisors, and county executives.
Mayors and city council members can often serve as strong voices in education discourse, especially if a district is just for a particular city or town. Research and determine which individuals with a history of addressing education in the local community to target for relationship-building efforts.
Unions are membership organizations, so they are understandably focused first on representing work in which their membership is engaged. But some unions may be willing to work in partnership with School Liaisons, parents, and other advocates on increasing the visibility of military-child issues. It is most effective to target the leadership of a local union, who are often perceived as the “voice of teachers” in a community.
Organizations such as a local United Way, Parent Teacher Association, YMCA, State Community Education Association (CEA), churches, and other faith-based centers can be key partners in supporting military-connected children and families. These organizations are often conveners of school officials, government, business, and other community stakeholders that can help mobilize and utilize community resources to support military-connected children.