In case you missed the #suptchat & #k12PRchat chatlaboration on Twitter last night, the PAPER team is here to provide you with a comprehensive wrap-up.
Superintendents Michael Lubelfeld, Nick Polyak, in collaboration with National School Public Relations Association VP and #K12PRchat host Catherine Kedjidjian, facilitated a chat with participants from varying sides of the K-12 system about a pertinent theme: Advocacy and politics in education.
Q1: How do you connect with legislators (newly elected or returning) to ensure they understand and support public education?
Connecting with legislators to help them understand and support the priorities of public school districts is key, and participants shared how they go about this:
A1: An initial outreach email, letting them know who you are, about your district/school, how you can provide resources for them, invitations to upcoming (virtual) events. I’ve also asked legislators if they’d like to be added to the district newsletter list. #k12prchat #suptchat— Dr. Amanda Holdsworth, APR (@HoldsworthComm) December 3, 2020
A1 #suptchat #k12prchat (con'd) We also make sure to meet with the cmte staff of the committees of jurisdiction, and any other offices that we know to be key allies or likely to become good allies. It's a game of 'get to them first, and get them to #LovePublicEducation'.— Noelle Ellerson Ng (@Noellerson) December 3, 2020
A1: Regular communication through email, meeting at their offices, testifying in committees, attending their coffees and local outreach efforts...a key is to stay in front of them and share relevant info #suptchat #k12prchat— Randy Speck, Ed.D. (@Randy_Speck) December 3, 2020
Q2: How do ed leaders focus on appropriate and necessary advocacy vs. political action in equity issues?
In response to this question, participants shared everything from their district’s statements on equity issues to their views on educators’ responsibility to mobilize political action.
Every decision we make is political from the food we buy to the vote. Politics is not a bad word. You cannot separate the issue of inequity from politics/political action. #SuptChat #K12prChat https://t.co/vfwWIn3dbf pic.twitter.com/pGLB3pUta8— Renae Bryant, Ed.D. (@DrRenaeBryant) December 3, 2020
A2: Like @SuptKuhn always tells me, when you keep what’s best for kids at the forefront of your decision-making, the choices are clearer and easier to stand behind. As long as we are focused on that purpose, appropriate and necessary will be much clearer #suptchat #k12prchat https://t.co/8qwp6lgeOS— Megan Anthony (@MeganAnthonyPR) December 3, 2020
A2: Appropriate education advocacy for equity sometimes requires political action which underscores the importance of regular communication with lawmakers. Create and build these important relationships to mobilize action! #suptchat #k12prchat— Randy Speck, Ed.D. (@Randy_Speck) December 3, 2020
Q3: How has the increased communication/community engagement that's been required during the pandemic helped or hindered that advocacy?
Whether technological, socioemotional, instructional, or nutritional — educators showed up for their communities’ needs time and time again in 2020. This increase in engagement and communication required more time and resources, and participants shared how this affected their advocacy efforts:
Helped: Shown the importance of what schools do to help with diverse needs of students. Shown a spotlight on things schools do that many didnt know about— Dane Dellenbach (@k12prDane) December 3, 2020
Hindered: So much communication happening that messages are harder to understand & attention harder get#SuptChat #K12prchat https://t.co/Lra9ZP8aFK
The following Twitter thread from Greenon Schools’ Megan Anthony stood out:
A3: Seeing how much we are needed stoked the flames of my passion for public education. We owe it to our communities, our families, our staff, and most of all, our kids, to advocate for the ability to be there for them to the best of our abilities. 2/2 #k12prchat #suptchat— Megan Anthony (@MeganAnthonyPR) December 3, 2020
Q4: How have you supported your teachers in navigating classroom conversations during the election season and after the election?
A fine balance needs to be struck by school districts every election, and this year was no exception:
A4: We reminded our staff that, while we do not take sides in elections, we do stand for kindness, civility, inclusion, respect, and evidenced-based reasoning. Here is what we shared with them: https://t.co/wdXfoOUkYE #k12prchat #suptchat— Nick Polyak (@npolyak) December 3, 2020
A4 We have supported our teachers in navigating classroom conversations during the election season and after the election with resources from @Tolerance_org and other respected sources #k12prchat #suptchat— Michael Lubelfeld (@mikelubelfeld) December 3, 2020
Q5: What examples of student advocacy did you see in your community during the election season?
#Suptchat #K12PRchat participants shared some incredible stories of student advocacy over the last few months.
A5 in @NSSD112 we have incredible teachers including @MrBuss9 who amplify student voice as a regular part of their program - including with election simulations - his colleagues do the same as well! #luckysupt #suptchat #k12prchat— Michael Lubelfeld (@mikelubelfeld) December 3, 2020
Students were talking about the impact of the election in ways that would impact them. Usually it's not so personal to them, but this time it was. They wanted to know if they were still gonna be going to school, if parents were going to have jobs. #SuptChat #k12prchat https://t.co/6LXkWdl1xu— Dane Dellenbach (@k12prDane) December 3, 2020
A5: In one district I work in, a group of students met up most weekends at a busy corner in our small town to protest about causes they cared about. I was proud of them for doing it and proud of the educators and families who made them believe in their voice! #k12prchat #suptchat https://t.co/ANTaNl0gYj— Megan Anthony (@MeganAnthonyPR) December 3, 2020
Q6: How do you help community members understand and appreciate the role, responsibilities, and reach of the school board?
It’s clear that the pandemic has pushed community members to be more in-tune with and aware of their school board. Some of last night’s participants think this newfound interest will continue long after COVID.
A6: An ongoing focus. Our school board are members of the community and during this pandemic, our community has had more opportunity to view our meetings via live stream, allowing them to understand their roles & responsibilities, more so than a year ago. #k12prchat #suptchat— Jennifer Bova (@jennifer_bova) December 3, 2020
A6: We have a story to tell. Board members are a key piece of the story - and we should highlight their work, tell the story of their work and share their story of their "WHY" they ran for the BOE in the first place. #suptchat— Dr. Courtney Orzel (@drorzel) December 3, 2020
A6: I think the polarization of decision-making at the Board level during the pandemic has made people more in-tune with their School Boards. I'm hoping that will produce positive engagement after we're out of this mess. #k12prchat #suptchat pic.twitter.com/arEQetkOVd— Joëlle Doye (@Rockshot_Joelle) December 3, 2020
#suptchat A6: Originally because of Covid, but our board meetings are streamed on Facebook Live. This is very popular, will probably be here to stay. It also allows the public to see exactly the type of governance and policy decisions with which our school board deals primarily pic.twitter.com/vpjfnhJ5Ur— Todd Dugan (@tdugan75) December 3, 2020
A6 In @NSSD112 we help community members understand and appreciate the role, responsibilities, and reach of the school board via live broadcast of all board meetings, celebration of Board Member Day (11/15 in IL), Board Briefs #k12prchat #suptchat @ILschoolboards— Michael Lubelfeld (@mikelubelfeld) December 3, 2020
Q7: What media sources do you use to get unbiased information to help you advocate effectively for your schools and your community?
Some favorites included:
A7: Shout out to @WASBWI for doing a great job keeping Board members, superintendents, and other school leaders up to date on the latest education news and how it will impact WI schools via email, blogs, articles, etc. They provide a great service. #k12prchat #suptchat pic.twitter.com/egiwNRf1Ok— Joëlle Doye (@Rockshot_Joelle) December 3, 2020
A7: I trust information from my professional organizations including @chiefsforchange @AASAHQ @NABSE_org @ALASEDU @tasanet @tasbnews @NSBAPublicEd @TABSE_Texas @TALAS4edu @pastors4txkids @Alliance_Texas #TUC & others to get unbiased information about educational issues. #suptchat— Dr. LaTonya M. Goffney (@drgoffney) December 3, 2020
Q8: What should be the characteristics/experience/focus of the next U.S. Education Secretary?
Educators couldn’t resist weighing in on this question; most contended that the next secretary should undoubtedly have experience serving in public education, have a laser-light focus on equity and be compassionate. Some participants even elected their fellow colleagues!
A8 #suptchat #k12prchat I think the next sec should come from higher ed (a palette cleanser from DeVos, and so much of what can be addressed is higher ed) Someone who supports strengthening and prioritizing public schools (in the context of federal support). #LovePublicEducation— Noelle Ellerson Ng (@Noellerson) December 3, 2020
A8: Our next Education Secretary needs to be aware of the differences between equity vs. equality, have compassion, empathy and genuine respect for education and its critical role in shaping our next generation. #k12prchat #suptchat— Jennifer Bova (@jennifer_bova) December 3, 2020
#suptchat A8: At least some type of experience in education would be helpful in our next @usedgov Secry. Someone who is a product of and truly believes in #lovepubliceducation as a cornerstone to democracy— Todd Dugan (@tdugan75) December 3, 2020
For the next Secretary of Education, what will be most important is what she will NOT do - stop the threats, intimidation, ranking, and sorting of states, schools, and kids. That twenty year experiment is over. #suptchat #edchat #Leadupchat— Douglas Reeves (@DouglasReeves) December 3, 2020
A8: The person should be familiar with/experienced in ALL forms of edu from child care - higher ed, so they can compare/contrast best practices, advocate for equity, understand alignment, make an impact...and be able to communicate effectively. #k12prchat #suptchat #schoolPR https://t.co/UOst41a9R4— Dr. Amanda Holdsworth, APR (@HoldsworthComm) December 3, 2020
A8 A blend of strong leadership experience, not just in academics. Someone who has taught. Focus: infusing more soft skills and resiliency training. #suptchat— Jack Slavinski (@jackslav) December 3, 2020
Finally, some concluding remarks from the moderators:
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