Thursday, August 1, 2013

Notes From July 20 Second Four-State Regional Conference

Click here for a pdf version of these notes.

Issues in Education


  • High Stakes Testing – impact on teaching, CCSS, connection to evaluation
  • Special Education funding, testing
  • State funding – closing of schools, laying off teachers
  • Informing others with correct information


  • Get parents and community members involved/educated on issues
  • Stories – impact of school closures, loss of teacher/librarians/etc.
  • Diversity – acknowledge areas where public schools need to improve for students of color/students in poverty
  • Loss of civil liberties/destruction of community
  • Disconnect with legislators and what is happening in classrooms/lack of understanding
  • Financial Inequalities/inconsistent rules for accountability
  • High Stakes Testing
  • Funding/Privatization
  • Accountability/Discrepancy with private schools
  • Change the political climate/Political will
  • Have transparency with charters
  • Parental education/empowerment
  • Finding candidates to run
  • “Edubusiness” – testing, voter education, telling the masses


  • Statewide network
  • Appeal to regular citizens
  • Relationships with media


  • Vouchers/Unfunded Mandates/Charter Schools
  • High Stakes Testing
  • Grading System/School Ratings/Report Cards


SOLUTIONS from groups/strategies

1) Social media and networking
*Create Facebook page
Identify local news people who are like minded to get the word out.
2) Show support for educators who are demoralized

3) Remind people about Glenda Ritz’s success

4) Ask teacher who involved they are?

5) Find a place to gather and letter writing campaign – make it social and fun
engages local business people if we meet @their establishment
6) Retired teachers are a “powerhouse of energy and experience” – use them

7) Share info wherever you go – politely turn the conversation and engage strangers

8) Identify those who showed run for office and help find them money to run

9) Hold forums and meetings and invite parents and business people – to create allies w/in community

10) Share stories whenever

11) Congratulate lawmakers when they do something “right” regarding education

12) Use PBL – all about community involvement

13) Letter writing Campaign – to newspapers
-used a model to help people w/the formatting and templates
-schedule time at local library
-providing structural advice
14) Go into PTA or PTO meetings w/Ppt presentation (like NEIFPE)

15) Go to county fairs, rotary clubs, farmers’ markets, w/info – educate general public

16) Involve youth –tap into Student council – have them bring it up at their PTA/PTO if they are already involved w/it

17) Create opportunities to talk F-2-F w/local legislators and/or mall groups

18) Phrase issues in non partisan terms - common to all who are concerned

19) Publish the money trail – help make it transparent

20) Continue to advocate for State Superintendent of Education as an elected position
Unless(?) State Board of Ed being appointed

21) PURE had a play–in (w/children and parents)
- to demonstrate importance of play in elementary school – in a public place – state gov.
22) Have parents come into classrooms to observe

23) Show how, statewide, there are common groups

24) Legislative fax – use a computer program to create 1 message to send to people

25) To hook parents into the issues, ask them their Qs – harder tests, have them sign petitions (ESP. about testing)

26) Clarify what we define quality education as being, instead of what’s wrong

27) Look for an app that could be used to disseminate info

28) Run for the school board

29) Boycott Walmart

30) Create Speakers Bureau of knowledgeable people who can speak to groups to bring people together

31) Increase public awareness of what’s happening in schools by noting:
- public vs. that voucher $ goes to private schools and religious schools
- the impact of high stakes testing to students, $ being sent
- arm people w/data to educate others
- collect data – local, state, national
- listen to people’s stories
- identify passionate people (parents, teachers, students)
32) Even if passionate people are not comfortable talking in front of a formal body, perhaps an informal setting (such as neighborhood party, etc.)

33) Ohio group
- Recruit key community leader
- Use email, social media to disseminate info
- Be on offensive, rather than defensive
(Troy, MI did advertising where they flipped the story to draw
attention to the issue; book burning)
34) Keep things topical – current issues

35) Have parents come in and take tests to see how their kids feel when they take them

36) Superintendent’s blog (MI) – 3x a week, publishes personal letters from public school (teachers?) and then responds to them – look @ this model and use in your district – he addresses state legislation, etc.

37) Use simple devices (like NEIFE’s green shirts) to visual our groups/issues

38) Build alliances w/other groups w/similar issues dealing w/public services

39) Race to the Top = green laces= supporting those schools who are not succumbing to Race to Top pressures

40) Lindsay Smith - reporter on NPR – supports public education in Michigan

41) How our schools are not failing - create Ppt and share with other states
- funding
- comparing charters to public educ.
42) Have quarterly meetings w/other state groups

43) Share info – civic organization, churches, schmooze local media

44) Create brochure and handouts – “Stamp out complacency”

45) Have actual action items for people to do: contact 10 people you know

46) Concrete plan of action after you meet

47) Make stickers w/QR codes that led them to education advocacy database

48) Moral Mondays in N. Carolina might serve as a model.
- church groups
- others
* go to state capitol - or city - every Monday and visit a particular agency
49) Road trip – ALEC convention : Aug 7-9 in Chicago

50) Visit NEIFPE website, etc and feel free to use/copy that info to create own sites, Ppt. (Please give NEIFPE credit)

51) Hand out your organization’s business cards wherever you go

52) A public education app that anyone could go to to get educated on what’s going on
- Friends of Public
- Indiana Edu app?
- Ohio Edu app
- Michigan Edu app

Final Word on How to Proceed

At the end of our Four State Conference in Fort Wayne on July 20, it was decided that we would open a private Facebook page for the Midwest Friends of Public Education. That page is now open and available for attendees of the conference. In order to join you must have a Facebook account. Go to the Midwest Friends of Public Education page and let us know you would like to join. One of the administrators will add you to the group. We intend to have at least one administrator from each of the four states.

You may find the group by searching for Midwest Friends of Public Education or using the URL,

For those of you who aren't on Facebook, the NPE-Grassroots email group is still available. If you are not currently a member of that group and wish to be, just request to join sending an email to and we can add you to the list.

We'd like these both of these groups to be a place where like-minded supporters of public education can share ideas, get support and advice for our work, and share successes as we organize in our communities to support public education.


Solution/Strategy Charts

1. Social media/networking (low cost, many on it)/website
2. Showing support for teachers
3. “We did it for Glenda…” involving teachers (this impacts you, you DO have power)
4. Letter coffee parties (after school)
5. Retired teachers’ luncheons
6. Relentlessly share info wherever we are (stores, churches, clubs, etc.)
7. Empowering students (who are looking to flex new muscles)
8. Funding/identifying candidates (create forums for Q/A) “We’re looking for pro-education people.”
9. Invite business people into schools (informs, creates allies)
10. Story sharing (“Why are public forums held when I’m working?”)(Maybe we can get relatives to go)
11. Congratulate lawmakers doing the right thing.
12. Engage students in projects
13. Inform residents/businesses of costs of A-F rating to them
- Your home value could be affected
- Try opening up business in a “D” district

- Writing Campaign (blogs)
- PTO/PTA and Schools
- Community (Farmer’s Market, County Fair, Rotary Club)
- Involving Youth (student government, journalism)
- Advocates in media or in power position


Play-In (demonstrate lack of EC play)
Have parents observe classroom
Statewide groups to show united front in state legislature
Stories – parents in charter schools
Legislative fax – computer program
Hook parents w/testing issue
- Give tests to parents
- Forums
- Petition
- New tests will be harder
Define quality education
Create an app? To get people together
Walmart boycott
Run for school bd – where would $$ come from?
Billboard – full page ad (WalMart?) “Why would anyone who supports public schools shop at WalMart? For more info see…”
Upwardly site- post videos
Speakers bureau – TedX

Goal: Increase awareness of contemporary educational issues
• Success rate of public vs. charters
• How vouchers affect public schools
• Voucher money goes to religious (even non-Christian)
• Effects of high-stakes testing – time, money, emotions
• Collect data – local, state, national
• Listen to people’s stories
• Identify passionate people to convey message (parents, teachers, students)

Identify and Recruit key members for steering committee
• Identify issues w/steering committee
• Education through outreach
- Facebook – social media
- Email
- “He told 2 friends, she told 2 friends”
- [Stories: Heart and Wallet]
• Build offense – Proactive
• Flipping issue – Book Burning
• Impactful actions
• Use Topical Events
- Springboro Strike
- Legislative action – Cols Ed Commission
- Testing time – Parents take kids test
- State budget
• Show me the money
• The money is gone, how did it hurt our kids, where did it go

- Networking (in and out of the school communities)
• Utilization of social media
• Mobilize teachers – Education community
- Visibility in communities:
• Parades
• T-shirts
• Community events – provide facts
- Political Impact at Election Time
- Build alliances w/police and fire, other in public sphere

- Lindsey Smith
- PowerPoint
- ALEC PowerPoint
Future Strategies
• Quarterly mtgs./Lansing to share information
- Mission
- Vision statement
- Goals
- Action plan
- Slogan
• PowerPoint presentations/speakers bureau – around state
- House parties
- Civic organizations
- Church
• Develop blog/FB page – 2-3 page/posts
• Google group – point person for each organization
• Create shortened PowerPoint for media
• Create brochure trifold
Stamp out complacency!!

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