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Charter Board Partners

Board Members Learn About Advocacy

April 14, 2017 | by Charter Board Partners
  • Advocate for all students, not just the ones at your own charter school. And remember that charter schools are public schools.
  • Advocacy is all about relationships--reach out often to politicians, parents, and the community.
  • Start early – when you can still influence the process.
  • Advocate positively, not negatively.
  • Work together:  the collective power of many voices has more impact than individual voices.
  • Advocacy shows up in ways big and small, and all are important to improve educational opportunities for all students.

Shawn Hardnett listensThese were a few of the kernels of wisdom shared during a gathering last week of almost 50 charter school board members who came together to learn more about how charter school board members can effectively advocate for quality educational opportunities for all students.  

CBP partnered with our colleagues and friends at Education Forward DC, Education Reform Now, FOCUS, BoardSource, the DC Association of Chartered Public Schools, and PAVE to co-host this special event.

CBP’s Carrie Irvin told board members they are not only doing important work to help the students in that school, but they are powerful and knowledgeable advocates for all students in the city, and that there are ways to amplify their impact without investing a lot of time or additional work.

Maura Marino of Education Forward DC moderated a panel discussion that offered the big picture as well as some ground-level specifics of school policy and opportunities to influence it. Raymond Weeden, who serves on the board of DC Prep Public Charter School, reminded the audience that every student has a voter who loves her, and that those parents, grandparents, and community members need to be activated to speak on behalf of our schools.

Abigail Smith, a board member at EL Haynes Public Charter School, advised participants to see their schools as part of the public system. Charter advocates need to partner with education advocates more generally to ensure that education needs citywide are addressed. This is not only the right thing, it’s also expedient: school officials, city councilors, and other decision-makers are more likely to listen when advocates join together.

Panelists at CBP Advocacy BreakfastDominique Fortune, the board chair at Lee Montessori Public Charter School, reminded participants to connect with many people, not just politicians. Parents and the community should top that list.

Adrian Jordan, a board member at Two Rivers Public Charter School who served as a staffer to Council Member Kenyatta McDuffie, noted that it’s important to reach out to policymakers early in the process, when there is still the opportunity to influence the process. Once legislation, including the city and school budgets, move along, it’s harder to get changes made.

Irene Holtzman of FOCUS and Catharine Bellinger of Education Reform Now shared updates on some of the pressing advocacy issues for charter schools, including the city budget’s treatment of facility costs for charter schools.

Board members in the room brought energy and a genuine interest in learning more about how to use their voices and their experience as board members to help advocate for high quality schools for all students.  We invite all charter school board members to join our upcoming Advocacy Community of Practice to learn about specific ways to get involved.  Email Carrie Irvin at cirvin@charterboard.org to join.