Photos courtesy of Lonnie Harp
As advocates seek to transform education, some are finding success supplementing their state policy work with broader outreach.
This was a driving force behind why the Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence launched their Parent Leadership Summit. Designed to empower Kentucky parents, the Summit creates a space for parent leaders to sharpen their advocacy skills.
Most recently, nearly three dozen Kentucky parents came together to discuss everything from accountability, school climate and safety to school boards. The six-hour Summit kicked off with a data walk, adapted from The Education Trust-West’s model. This experience focused on connecting parents more tangibly to Kentucky-specific data, providing context, and elevating the real story in the Bluegrass State. (View several slides used in the Data Walk here and here).
The Summit is the first step in a longer advocacy path for parents—the Commonwealth Institute for Parent Leadership Fellowship. After the Summit, parents will be able to attend a series of learning webinars on a variety of education topics, and work toward planning engagement opportunities for other parents and citizens as well begin to plan an activity in their community that will help increase student success. As the final piece, each fellow will submit a written report detailing their experience and its impact. (Read more about the fellowship here).
Getting the Word Out
In order to start generating parent interest for April 2018 Summit, the Prichard team worked to re-engage parents that attended previous trainings, utilized free ads in local newspapers, paid Facebook and radio ads, and leaned heavily on partners like the Kentucky Department of Education, School Boards Association, state PTA, and more to help spread the word.
Advice for other Advocates
Prichard offers this advice for other advocacy groups considering similar programming: Start early, focus on getting strong leaders already doing good work, leave time for conversation, intentionally listen to what parents are asking, and build community even before an event.
If you’re interested in learning more about the Commonwealth Institute for Parent Leadership, please reach out for a connection to the Prichard team. You can also read more about their work to engage student advocates here.