In the education world, there are a lot of issues to debate, from school funding and pre-K access to school discipline and teaching quality. On June 19th, the OTL Campaign held a webinar for organizers to discuss messaging strategies for building successful, multi-issue campaigns in their states and communities. (Scroll down for video!)
A bit of background: Since the 1983 publication of A Nation at Risk, the U.S. has followed an education policy agenda based on standards and accountability. But by focusing only on raising the bar, policymakers have neglected to address what students need to reach the bar. This "standards-based reform" agenda has resulted in a national high-stakes testing mania, mass school closures, the demonization of teachers, and an inequitable education system that hits disadvantaged students, families and communities the hardest. Though many advocates and organizers today are fighting for equity and justice in education, until recently there hasn't been an overarching framework tying the disparate issues they work on into a national movement for change.
For the webinar, David Sciarra, Executive Director of the Education Law Center, gave an overview of the federal Equity and Excellence Commission's February 2013 report For Each and Every Child. The report, which Sciarra helped to author, was a bold, national call for a new approach to education policy based on ensuring equity and opportunity for all students. The report marked the first time that the many issues in the education debate had been weaved into a single narrative.
The OTL Campaign refers to this new narrative as a "supports-based reform" agenda, and advocates and organizers in our network have done tremendous work in the communities building multi-issues campaigns.
Rich Huddleston, Executive Director of Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families (AACF), discussed how the Arkansas OTL Campaign has become a force to be reckoned with in the state. You can read about some of their victories in AACF's recent legislative summary, Kids at the Capitol.
Ocynthia Williams, a parent organizers from the NYC Coalition for Educational Justice and United Parents of Highbridge, talked about the inspiring campaigns New Yorkers are waging, especially as the city prepares for a mayoral election. In particular, she highlighted A+NYC's exciting bus tour through the city neighborhoods and NY-GPS's mayoral education debate.
- For Each and Every Child – Equity and Excellence Commission
- An Education Declaration to Rebuild America – OTL Campaign
- Equity Checklist – OTL Campaign
- Is School Funding Fair? A National Report Card – Education Law Center
Watch the whole webinar and download the PowerPoint from it below!