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Coalition for Community Schools: March Advocacy Month Recap

The Coalition for Community Schools challenged community schools stakeholders to engage in various advocacy actions through its March advocacy month campaign. The targets for this campaign were policymakers at the state and local levels, including state legislators, city councilors, school board members, and others. In particular, community schools state coalitions helped lead advocacy campaigns in their states.   

Some state coalitions focused on their state budgets for advocacy. Both the Wisconsin and Minnesota coalitions developed strategies and action plans to coincide with legislative debates surrounding funding of their budgets. The Wisconsin coalition worked tirelessly with the Wisconsin Public Education Network to host statewide organizing sessions around their state budget debate sessions. These sessions have enabled stakeholders to organize around funding critical K-12 education strategies, including community schools.  The Minnesota coalition also organized to send some of their stakeholders to testify on behalf of Minnesota House Bill HF 146 and Senate Bill SF 7. Matt Hoeschen, a board member for the Meyers-Wilkins Community School Collaborative in Duluth, Minnesota conveyed how he pitched the idea of increasing community school funding. "In creating this graduation pipeline through community schools, we hope to address the larger problem of equity in the state. This resonated with our legislators, as they see the strategy as something that can be effective in low-income, rural areas."


New York Community Schools Coalition Event

  In the case of both Maryland and New York, the fact that they had both conducted advocacy recently in January and February did not deter them from organizing actions for March. The Maryland coalition organized its members to testify on behalf of  HB1186, cross-filed SB 927, which would levy an excise tax on legal sales of marijuana with a percentage of the proceeds to be allocated to the state’s juvenile services. Fifty percent (50%) of these proceeds was earmarked to go directly to the state’s community schools program. The New York Coalition maintained their momentum from their January state advocacy day to advocate for continued community schools funding from the state legislature. New York held a Twitter-Storm and a call-in day as a way to express a desire for community schools funding to state representatives. Commenting on the state coalition tweet-storm, Terry Kim, senior policy analyst at the Children’s Aid Society stated, "The tweet storm was a great way to keep our state coalition engaged. Members or elected officials are increasingly online and on Twitter and this keeps us engaged with them throughout the year."


Texas AFT Rally for Community Schools

  Similarly, the Texas state coalition in collaboration with Texas AFT organized major events during the month of March. On March 13th, the Texas Coalition partnered with AFT for a lobby day at the Texas legislature to advocate for community schools, among other issues. AFT also held a ‘Save Our Schools day’. The purpose of ‘Save Our Schools Day’ was to inform legislators of a number of education funding priorities, including community schools. This advocacy is essential, as the Texas House and Senate have introduced their own respective SB and HB 193 bills.  


Texas Save Our Schools Rally

   Also, there has been growth on the local level with local policy actions as well. Several individuals in the Vancouver public school system have spent this month presenting on community schools in a variety of arenas. These presentations included trainings on the community school strategy to classrooms of educators/principal administrators at Washington State University of Vancouver.

   We were excited to see how much advocacy was generated in just a month’s time, and given the success of March Advocacy month, we will look to continue this event going forward. If you wish to join a state coalition, you can learn more from our state coalition’s network page. In addition, if you would like to participate in any of the advocacy actions mentioned here, we have created a state and local policy toolkit, which can assist you in starting low touch and high touch forms of advocacy.

 


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