Monday, December 08, 2008

More Tips for School Advocates

Continuing from an earlier thread of suggestions for affected school communities, here are some more tips for school advocates.

1) Listen frequently and as carefully as possible to what the leaders (like Dr. G-J) and decision-makers (the School Board) are saying and writing. This is not as easy and obvious as it sounds. When you are upset, or believe the district is doing something wrong, it's easy to get so emotional about it that your head is filled with your own thoughts and arguments to the exclusion of being able to listen to others. But I think it's absolutely crucial when advocating for a position to understand as much as possible about the philosophies/beliefs/concerns of decision-makers and leaders. On that note:

2) Once you have identified the philosophies, key concerns, approaches of the leaders and decision-makers, use that information to target your message to them. For example, during the last round of closures, we heard that "dispersal" of kids from a closed school to many different schools (as opposed to one or two) was a key concern of several School Board members. Graham Hill parents heard this concern, did their research, and then presented their case successfully, keeping their school open.

3) Assume the best, not the worst, of District staff, School Board members, and other parents in the commmunity. This not only will make people more likely to listen to what you have to say, but it will also help you avoid ulcers, high blood pressure and other side effects of constantly assuming the worst.

1 comment:

Josh Hayes said...

I can't agree with this more. I roared into some SSD staffers' mailboxes last week with a demand for data, then the next day apologized for my tone, and after some emails saying "don't sweat it! we know everyone's stressing", got my data the next day.

In the deepest sense, we're all on the same side: educating the kids. We can get a lot done if we refuse to demonize each other. I have to believe that, otherwise, how can public schools survive?