I recently attended a Kenny G concert in Kansas City (AWESOME by the way), and during one of his breaks from mesmerizing mellowness he introduced the members of the band who travel with him.
Most of them have known each other since high school…that would be public high school in Seattle, Washington. They played in the jazz band and concert band together and their mentors and heroes – according to Kenny G – were public school teachers who encouraged them to dream that they would one day play their music on a stage in front of thousands of people.
I know! Awesome, right?
What happened next at the concert was a tad disappointing. There was only a polite smattering of applause at the mention of public education and public school teachers. No loud hoots or whistles, no ‘at-a-boy, Kenny G’ shout from the overflowing balconies. (Perhaps the fact that we were actually an hour into the incredibly calming concert may have affected the zealousness of the audience’s response.)
The vast majority of Kansans support their public schools. The vast majority of us graduated from public schools and many of us went on the public colleges and universities. I guess unless you are currently directly connected to education – as a student, teacher, parent, grandparent, board member – it is easy NOT to be passionate about public education.
Yet critics of public education are certainly passionate, or at least vocal and persistent. So how do we change the polite applause to shouts and whistles in support public education…Kansas public education?
Frankly, we’ll only get passion if we bring it! Uncomfortable? Maybe, but is it something you truly believe in? Then bring it!
The ol’ adage “Just do it” seems to apply. If you know you’d like to do something, but just aren’t sure how or where to start, give me a call or send me an email. I would love to help!
Here are a few quick tips:
The public’s attention span can be very short! You should plan to state and restate (and restate and restate, etc.) your story.
- Use already established school district communications to inform the public.
- Place key issues or communication with legislators on all board and staff meeting agendas.
- Include information on key issues in district publications or special mailings to patrons.
- If this is an official district publication, be sure to present only facts and the school board’s position.
Use public and personal communications to share the message.
- Write a guest column or “letter to the editor” to newspapers in your area.
- Volunteer for public affairs radio/TV programs, call-in shows; or contribute to blogs on issues concerning the district and its positions. Volunteer to speak to community organizations.
- Prepare media releases and provide interviews with news outlets.
Build a network and connect with others.
- Set up regular meetings for school leaders and community members who want to work to support public education in your community and statewide.
- Create a formal school district advocacy team or network.
- Parents, senior citizens, health professionals, business people, clergy and law enforcement officials are just some of the members of your community affected by education policy changes. They can become a part of your team!
There are a number of groups who share concern about the future of Kansas. Seek out others who share your views and build coalitions. Here are just a few places to start:
Game on for Kansas Schools
Save Olathe Schools Facebook Page
Derby Parent Advocacy Group for Education (PAGE) Facebook Page