Around the country, advocates are using listening tours as a powerful tool for engaging with stakeholders, digging into hyperlocal perspectives, and even looking around corners for new advocacy directions. DelawareCAN, SCORE, and the Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence each offer useful examples of how to maximize the potential of listening tours and similar outreach events.
During the past year, DelawareCAN engaged with 650 Delawareans through a statewide listening tour, an engagement survey, and additional outreach activities. Discussions focused on knowledge about education in Delaware, involvement with schools and with advocacy efforts, and perceptions of the Delaware public education system.
IncluDEd: Engaging Everyday Delawareans to Transform Education shared their findings. Respondents expressed their overall dissatisfaction with the quality of education in Delaware (the majority rated the education system as a C on an A-F scale). Additionally, many Delawareans said they are not nearly as engaged with the education system as they would like to be. According to the report, the findings “help paint a picture of the breadth of work that DelawareCAN is ready to tackle.”
Over the summer, members of the SCORE team organized a series of regional community conversations across Tennessee. Their goal was to take a closer look at progress and future goals while gathering thoughts from a diverse group of education stakeholders. Nearly 500 Tennesseans talked with SCORE during these conversations. SCORE’s work builds on the success of a prior listening tour in 2009, which informed A Roadmap to Success, a specific plan for improving Tennessee student achievement that was foundational to the path Tennessee has taken over the last eight years.
In fall 2017, SCORE plans to release a new report examining the education issues that emerged during their travel across the state. Key themes include reading in the early grades, teacher preparation and professional development, and alignment between business, higher education, and the K-12 system. Find more information on the upcoming report here.
During the 2016-17 school year, the Prichard Committee’s Student Voice team led the Students as Partners Listening Tour, a series of interactive workshops targeting youth and adult education stakeholders. The student-led team planned the tour as a method for building a deeper grassroots constituency around the broader value of student voice in education issues, and the strategy dovetailed with the Prichard Committee’s work to turn outward and balance the organization’s expert knowledge with that of key public stakeholders.
In addition to serving as an opportunity to provide real-time feedback about what students were experiencing in schools, each event helped audiences understand the spectrum of meaningful student voice, identify its presence in their own school communities, appreciate the relationship between student voice and agency in school climate, and understand the basic school governance structure in Kentucky. The workshops also shared the findings of the Student Voice team’s most recent report, Students as Partners: Integrating Student Voice in the Governing Bodies of Kentucky Schools.
If you’re interested in connecting with DelawareCAN, SCORE, or the Prichard Committee, please reach out.