Over the past four years, it’s been my unique pleasure to follow the communications work of a bevy of talented leaders. As I prepare to leave PIE Network on August 8 to return to my roots in marketing education services, there are so many best practices and stellar examples to share. Here are just a few.
Driving Earned Media
More than a decade ago, the Georgia Partnership for Educational Excellence launched their inaugural Media Symposium. Held each year in the early spring, GPEE’s Symposium gives advocates the opportunity to define their priorities and raise their exposure to reporters. At the Symposium, GPEE releases a yearly Top 10 Issues to Watch report that corresponds with their policy and advocacy goals.
Highlighting the Positive
In education advocacy, we are often focused on describing the worst parts of our school systems and their deleterious effects on students; however, highlighting the educators and schools that are innovating to better support learners creates a positive narrative that can encourage others to learn from their work. The State Collaborative on Reforming Education (SCORE) launched the SCORE Prize in 2011 to recognize educational accomplishments with a $10,000 prize to the elementary, middle, and high school winners and a $25,000 prize to the district winners. In 2017, Colorado Succeeds launched their own version of a similar contest, the Succeeds Prize.
Sharing Common Goals
When Expect More Arizona began meeting with more than 300 partners across the state to determine what areas of focus were most needed in public education, it wasn’t surprising that there were mixed opinions. What is surprising is that Expect More Arizona was able, through dedicated stakeholder engagement, to ultimately create a dashboard aligned around eight key education topics. Now, the Grand Canyon State has a Progress Meter that displays the current data and recent trends on key education factors, and advocates have a shared language to discuss their commitment to improvement.
Leveraging National Exposure
What do you do when a teacher in your state wins the 2018 National Teacher of the Year? You do what Partnership for Learning did and jump on that opportunity for national exposure. In their new video, Mandy Manning, who teaches in Spokane, Washington, shares her commitment to helping newcomer students adjust to American culture, explaining, “We help them to be comfortable asking and answering questions with people that they don’t know.”
Speaking Truth to Power
Finally, I’ll never stop being impressed by the advocates who have the courage to speak out on critical issues. Ryan Smith, executive director of The Education Trust-West, recently called out his state for failing students who look like him. While describing his own educational journey, he explains, “That fall, I attended UCLA. Sadly, I entered as one of only 27 Black men to get into that university based on academics alone in a freshman class of 4,000 students.” Then he points to national test scores to demonstrate that “while California claims to be a progressive beacon on the hill, it’s leaving its Black, Brown, and poor students at the base of the mountain.”