Public Schools Week #PublicSchoolsProud
The last week of February is Public Schools Week. This is a time for communities to rally around their schools using the hashtag #PublicSchoolProud. At CEL, we are proud to support school leaders and communicators in connecting with families and communities and sharing school stories.
Public schools are the heart and soul of most communities. They represent the future for the economic vitality of a community. Whether in small towns, the burbs or our urban centers, the reputation of the schools often drives the reputation of the town. School communicators and leaders are uniquely positioned to influence of the future of a community by effectively engaging the public in support of its schools.
How will you celebrate Public Schools Week?
Storytelling: Working in public education, you are responsible for the two things that people hold most dear, their children and their taxes. Make sure your storytelling is hitting the right messages and tone.
- Student success spotlights
- Students engaged in hands-on learning and problem-solving
- Students giving back to the community
- Alumni who followed their passions and are successfully contributing to the economy
- Fiscal responsibility and stewardship
Repurposed content: NSPRA Executive Director Rich Bagin’s monthly blog provides great key messages for the week, which can be personalized and repeated at the district level. Be sure to follow NSPRA social channels [Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn] and repost to amplify messages.
- Nine out of 10 students in America — more than 50 million — attend public schools.
- Public schools have never been better. Graduation rates have never been higher. More students are engaged in a wide array of courses that just were not possible even 5 to 10 years ago. Students are also more engaged in their school work than they were in the past.
- Public schools are a good investment for parents and future empty nesters. If adults have children, the community will invest more in their child’s K12 education than most parents will repay in school taxes.
- Ask community members to give a helping hand. Ask them to become engaged in your local schools to see what can be done to make our schools stronger and better in the years ahead. The public owns our schools, and we need to invite them to be responsible owners.
- If you’re looking for additional data, NSPRA has a slew of articles.
Project your voice beyond the choir
In most communities today, only 25% of households have school-age children. However, 100% of households contribute local and state taxes that support our schools. Singing to the choir is insufficient in gaining support. Be intentional about actively communicating with all in your community—beyond students, staff and parents. Reach out and meet community members on their terms.
Joey Page, Superintendent in Byron, Minnesota, has been promoting Byron’s Pathways and Profile of a Graduate on LinkedIn. Among the individuals liking (and sharing) his posts are a local bank president, senior-living administrator, and local magazine publisher. In other words, professionals who may not follow the school’s Facebook or Instagram feed learn about Byron Schools on LinkedIn.
Cambridge-Isanti Superintendent Nate Rudolph provides a monthly column to the local paper, reminding citizens without children of the critical role the schools play in the future of the community. Of course, the district also shares the link through social media channels.
And Princeton Public Schools follows the mantra of innovative educator George Couros. “Make the positive so loud that the negative become almost impossible to hear.” For a district of about 2,500 students, Princeton has more than 3,500 followers on Facebook. Their post engagements reach more than 34,200! They celebrate kids, learning and their Princeton Tiger Pledge.
Research supports public education
More than 50 years of research by Phi Delta Kappan reminds us that support for public education is strong at the local level. For decades, parents and citizens have given their local schools an A or B grade. And “Americans continue to express their concern about the lack of financial support for the public schools, naming this as the biggest problem facing their local schools for the 18th consecutive year,” according to the poll. Our communities want our schools to succeed, and they want to help. So, invite them in.
Since a Nation At Risk was published in 1983, we’ve been reacting to attacks on public education. The truth is our schools have changed a lot since that report. Our students are learning more than ever before. And our economy—primarily fueled by public school graduates—is consistently among the top three in the world according to a global competitiveness report by the World Economic Forum.
It’s no surprise that a 2019 public opinion presentation by Morris Leatherman Company reported that education was the most important issue on Minnesota voters’ minds. Make the most of Public Schools Week. Make your community #PublicSchoolsProud
If you’d like help articulating your messages or engaging your community, consider our VisionInFocus subscription service for school leaders.
Published on: February 21, 2020