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Sunday, July 23, 2006

Advocacy Guidelines

During the last week or so, several people have made comments that I feel are worth highlighting. The one below is by Charlie Mas on advocacy.

"1. Always, always, always frame your statements from the perspective of what will benefit the students. You won't be effective speaking in support of programs, buildings, community good will, or policy. Your only chance is to speak in support of students.

2. Similarly, compel your oppopent to frame their remarks from the perspective of the students' benefit.

3. Do your research. If you have mistaken the facts about any element of your position it will discredit your whole position.

4. You can challenge people, but you cannot require them to accept your challenge, so do it very sparingly. The District staff do not like it when you point out their lies, contradictions, broken promises, and acts of bad faith. Calling them liars or cheats will make you appear rude or angry and will give them the opportunity to change the subject from what you are saying to how you are saying it. I believe that the two best ways to address these sorts of things are to disingenuously ask them to help you reconcile the gap between their words and the their actions (which I haven't seen work but at least doesn't create negatives for you) or apophasis - to mention something by saying that you won't discuss it i.e. "Your many broken promises to this community are not relevant to this discussion". About two years ago the Superintendent told me that he didn't appreciate being called a liar. I recommended that he stop telling lies. We haven't spoken since.

5. Consider how the position you advocate will indirectly impact other students and the District as a whole."

Thank you, Charlie, for this helpful advice on how to approach the District with demands for change.

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