Making Good Trouble: Lessons from our 2022 OTL Convening

Last month, more than 100 education justice organizers gathered for the first time since 2019 for our Opportunity to Learn (OTL) Network Convening in Charlotte.

At the convening, the energy was contagious; participants connected, shared and learned from experts and each other. Organizers discussed communications and fundraising, youth and intersectional organizing. We heard first-hand from our grassroots partners about the successes and challenges they and their communities are facing, particularly in light of the pandemic, and we want to share some of what we heard and experienced with you.

Here are a few highlights noted by OTL Director Michael Wotorson.

  • NEA President Becky Pringle encouraged local advocates with the words “don’t give up! Don’t stop fighting!” and lifted up the power of community-labor partnerships rooted in mutual respect and cooperation.
  • Nuchette Black-Burke of Hartford Public Schools encouraged advocates to push districts to “share the data.” More often than not, district level student data is closed off. Advocates and community leaders should have access to student data for them to meaningfully participate in the development of systems that serve students in equity and justice.
  • During our discussion of the OTL Policy Commission, Alliance for Quality Education’s Jasmine Gripper reminded us to ask critical questions when discussing measurement and accountability: Measurement of what? Who’s being held accountable, and to whom?
  • OTL advocates should remember that “we are winning!”