All too often, policy happens “to” people instead of “with” them, especially in historically marginalized communities. That’s why LEE has created a Community Input Toolkit to help members keep community voice at the forefront of their work. It includes the story of one member, Anna Moffit, who serves on the Madison Metropolitan School District’s Board of Education, and who embodies this approach. Anna is a lifelong Madison resident who is committed to engaging community throughout the policy making process.
As a school board candidate, Anna ran her campaign by engaging with community members. She carried this priority into her role as school board member. Shortly after she was elected in 2015, the school board began reconsidering its relationship with school resource officers (known in Madison as education resource officers), giving Anna the opportunity to put her priorities into practice.
Like many communities across the US, Madison’s relationship with education resource officers is complex and affects many stakeholders. Anna connected with stakeholders on all sides of the issue, at various points leveraging her network and social media to help forge relationships with some who were originally skeptical of engaging with the school board. She sought to not only keep everyone in the conversation, but to begin to repair strained relationships that historically led to policy making stalemates.
Working to authentically understand the needs of the community, Anna also kept an open-mind and allowed herself to seriously consider all recommendations. This helped to build trust, a critical element of gathering community input.
Several school board members, including Anna, recommended the board create an ad hoc committee devoted to working on this issue. The committee is now early in its process and is hosting a listening tour to hear from various community groups, as well as devoting additional time to hear directly from students. After gathering input from these stakeholders, the committee will begin crafting their recommendations.
Next May, Anna and the committee will present recommendations to the entire school board, which Anna is hopeful they will adopt. Because of Anna’s commitment to engaging the community throughout the committee process, these recommendations will represent the authentic voices and needs of Madison’s community members.
You can read more about Anna’s approach and how you can meaningfully engage community members in the policymaking process through our Community Input Toolkit!