Schools belong to the communities they serve and districts strive to build and earn community buy-in around initiatives and goals, and work hard to communicate how stakeholders – including local businesses, service providers, and individual community members – can get involved. They face several public relations challenges, including changing societal perceptions about education (e.g. classrooms don’t have to have rows of desks and textbooks, or an agrarian schedule) and keeping messages positive in an era when social media criticism of public education and district performance is common. Some districts also face challenges with trying to engage the community through feedback loops, partnership opportunities, and collaborative decision-making.
District leaders responded this challenge is urgent
Staff from suburban districts responded this challenge is widespread
Staff from urban districts responded this challenge is widespread
Staff from rural districts responded this challenge is widespread
“I think we've had a harder sell with the idea that kids are going to need some different skills in the workplace, believe it or not. I think that because we're in a pretty high achieving area, they want to see the high SAT and ACT scores.... They seem to understand robotics and that kind of thing, but the idea that our kids need to be able to think critically, and collaborate well, and work across cultures? We had a recent community engagement program and that was one of my aha's is they hadn't totally bought into that yet.”
“Everybody knows everyone and I think that our challenge with communicating and contacting folks is that there's so much information so you don't know what's real and what isn't, what's rumor and what's conjecture. So, our effort is really more about keeping our messages straight and making sure they don't get skewed by someone who has a different point of view or thought process.”
Communication E-Kit for Superintendents - In this practical toolkit from the National School Public Relations Association, superintendents can quickly peruse tips to ensure their district is at the forefront of successful communication.
School-Community Partnerships - This case study from the Aspen Institute National Commission on Social, Emotional, and Academic Development discusses the role community partners can play in supporting children’s learning in collaboration with schools.
Strong School–Community Partnerships in Inclusive Schools Are “Part of the Fabric of the School…We Count on Them” - This study investigates the kinds of community partnerships that successful schools develop and the factors that support the development of strong community partnerships in these schools.
Public Relations for Schools - This archive from Education World shares a collection of helpful school public relations tips, including articles on communications, press outreach, social media, and more.