A few weeks back, I had the privilege of attending the PIE Network Conference: Exploring Organizing, Diversity, and Community Engagement, a gathering of dozens of organizations ready to collaborate and discuss education in America. Policy Innovators in Education (PIE), is a network of organizations focused on improving and protecting state-level education for all our children.
As a community organizer, the conference provided me the unique opportunity to connect with national organizations and share innovative ideas on how the educational experiences our kids have every day could be enhanced, how we can involve teachers in the movement, and how we can augment parent and community voice to ensure they are adequately represented in their child’s education.
Here are 12 key takeaways from the event for education advocates everywhere:
1.) Some people care about policy – everyone cares about schools and kids.
2.) “Community organizing is like the internet – there is a real need for structure and a framework.”
3.) In order to be successful, there needs to be a consistent mission and vision, a glue that works to bring everyone together.
4.) The highest form of justice is empowerment through one-on-one discussions.
5.) Teachers are tired of policy being done TO them and not with them.
6.) Many parents feel they don’t have the right to challenge the system.
7.) There is place for an entire community to be involved in creating a better school environment.
8.) Parent voice is vital. Instead of having policy happen to them, parents must be out in front driving the decisions that affect their children’s lives.
9.) The difference between being an organizer versus an activist isn’t making a lot of noise for yourself, but empowering others to be leaders.
10.) We need to embrace short-term wins and a long-term mindset.
11.) There really isn’t a social revolution without youth involvement.
12.) Be a resource and let the community flourish with their own ideas and aspirations.