I attended messaging training this summer while at the Association for Middle Level Education Affiliate Summit. The training was put on by the Learning First Alliance, a partnership of 16 leading education associations all focused on improving learning in America's schools.
I know we are facing some communication challenges presently, and I suspect some of you are, too, so here are my notes on that session (cleaned up a little).
Key Questions to Shape Your Messaging:
- What's your issue/messaging challenge?
- Who should you be reaching out to?
- What's your ask?
Key Findings from National Public Opinion Polls and Survey Data
- Recent growing support for teachers
- A belief that there is a lack of adequate funding
- Rank local schools high but think country's schools are in trouble
- Parents want to know how their child is progressing
Common Assumptions (from that national data)
- The community can be influenced primarily by parents, students, teachers
- Top education problems & issues: motivation, character, discipline, effort
- Student success and teacher effectiveness = caring
- Choice is good
- Reforms need a lot more money
- Everyone should have the opportunity to go to college
- Individualization is needed to strengthen basics (not for innovation)
- Education is a limited commodity (there is only so much to go around)
Common Agreements (from that national data)
- Public schools are key to a nation's economic future
- High quality pubic education is a right, not a luxury
- Public education benefits society
- Innovation is important, but don't experiment on my children – we need improvement
- Goal of pubic education is the preparation needed to support our country's quality of life
Values That Work in the Community (from the national data)
- Education is a shared investment
- The current system needs updating to prepare students to live in a rapidly changing world
- Improving education requires a practical set of iterative steps toward an ultimate goal
- Issues of equity are about the distribution of resources, not about bad people (maybe about unlucky people, not bad people)
- Don't say “my child” say “every child”