HOT TOPIC: Advocacy
Volume 3, Issue 22 - February 18, 2007

"When educators discuss whether they see their role as being involved in formulating public policy, the answer is usually “I’m an teacher, not a politician.” This may explain why schools are not making the progress that is expected. It's okay to not get involved in politics as long as you are not interested in controlling your own destiny; those willing to become involved in politics will be more than happy to tell you what to do. And of course, if you choose not to get involved, you have no right to complain!

Whether we want to recognize it or not, educators work in a political world. To be successful schools must have a carefully developed politically-aware plan. Who are the advocates for your plan? How can coalitions be built to support your plan? How will you know when to compromise? These are the questions that we need to answer when we have a vision based on values and goals that we want to implement.

When advocating for schools, don’t go it alone. Find partners and alliances that will work with you and support your vision. In order to build consensus, all your stakeholders need to have their voices heard and respected. Keep your opposition close, too. Most people don’t want to hear from others who oppose their vision. Yet involving your opposition is critical to your success; they help you understand their issues so that you can find common ground. Also keep in mind uncommitted stakeholders in your vision. What will motivate them to get involved? How do you enlist their help as allies?

At a time where leadership, vision and teamwork can help educators win public support for everything from pedagogy to infrastructure to financing, advocacy is key. If we do not become advocates for the needs of education, both individually and collectively, we will have no one to blame but ourselves for the future course of our schools. Don’t like the agenda you see for education locally, at the state level or nationally? Speak up, be heard, get involved and make a difference!

This week’s D12 offers you the professional resources you need to become your own best advocate for education."

©2005 Walter McKenzie

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