Working Together Across Schools: Lessons Learned
Now is a perfect time to refocus on this effort. Parents in many schools, buildings, and programs are confused and upset and trying to figure out how to effectively advocate for their children and their beliefs. And many other parents, including those on this blog, have been through this closure and consolidation process before and have lessons learned they can share.
Unfortunately, my children's schools have been involved in every phase of the closure and consolidation process so I have some experiences I can share. Here are some quick thoughts:
- Organize your school's parents quickly, using blogs, wiki, e-mail lists, "kid mail" or whatever works for your community.
- Collect data and talking points quickly, focusing on facts that can be verified rather than emotional appeals.
- Get the "sign up" dates for the next series of Board meetings and hearings on your calendar now. Last time, the sign-up would fill quickly (within the first hour or so) for all available spots.
- Strategically chose the people to speak for your school. The message should be consistent and coordinated. More people is not necessarily better. Choose the best speakers.
- Be clear about what you are advocating for, not just what you are arguing against. Provide the Board with a concrete alternative to the proposal you are opposing.
- Don't throw another school or program or population "under the bus" as part of your solution. It doesn't look good to Board members or other community members, and it's not likely to work.
- Do find other schools that you can talk with/work with to collaboratively develop creative possiblities/solutions.
What tips/tricks/strategies/suggestions can others share?