The Florida Education Association hosted a statewide gathering of education advocates on May 18 titled: Bringing Voices Together: An Education Summit for Florida’s Public Schools. Over 1,000 teachers, parents, school board members, superintendents, and students, came together in Orlando for conversations about how to save our public schools.
Emerging themes included:
- Educate the public – more understanding is needed about education policy and how decisions are made that impact children
- Increase communication and collaboration – there is sometimes finger pointing and blame between parents and teachers; how can we work together to help our children?
- Change the narrative – public schools and teachers are under attack, but we can change that by spreading the positive message about why we are #PublicSchoolProud
- Community engagement – schools are reflective of the communities in which they serve; more involvement from parents and community groups will strengthen our schools
In a nutshell, it’s all about changing the way we feel about, the way we talk about, and the way we are involved in our public schools. It’s about working together to achieve our common goal of a high quality public education system that serves the needs of all students. It’s about every stakeholder doing their part to make our public schools the best they can possibly be.
What will it take to achieve this?
Kieron Blair from the Alliance to Reclaim our Schools stated it well: “Risk something, or sit with your dreams forever.” He very pointedly asked: what are we willing to risk in order to make our dream about public education reality? What do we have to shift or change in order to materialize the world we have been dreaming about?
Every participant at the summit was asked to have 100 conversations about public education within the next year. By doing this, we will exponentially increase the awareness, involvement and advocacy that is needed to save our schools.
Bringing people together and educating the public about what’s happening in our schools is the reason United for FL Children was founded years ago. We are happy to take part in creating a more formal agenda that brings together public education advocates in our state – both grassroots and established organizations – to find common ground.
As Becky Pringle from the National Education Association stated: “We need you to join us in demanding that every public school is the best public school.” We can’t just sit on the sidelines anymore. The time has come when we must take a risk, as if the very existence of public education depends on it. Because it does.