Tuesday, March 21, 2006

My thoughts on political advocacy and activity


Anonymous Anonymous said...


I feel that political advocacy and activity, in many ways, are at the essence of the battle for meaningful and change-driven education. I believe that the lack of political advocacy and activity leaves us in the current vision-less, regressive educational state where we now exist. Programs like NCLB, the diminution of PT3 and other meaningful federally funded programs are, in the end, the result of political advocacy and activity. Therefore, the antidote to those regressive actions will require equally powerful and well-placed political advocacy and activity. What do you think?


5:58 AM  
Blogger Debbie Sprague said...

Janet says we do not advocate for ourselves. Why is that? We spend a lot of time talking about what needs to be done and we recognize the issues and problems associated with education and society at large, but we tend to be passive about the political process. I always thought if we got all the teachers and teacher educators together, we would be a very powerful political force, and yet we don't do that. I am just as guilty as others on this issue so I am not pointing fingers. What can we do to change this?

6:07 AM  
Anonymous not mad said...

I believe your call to action is honorable and very important. As educators, we are compelled to act as fathers and mothers advocating for children who the world has decided to exploit and take advantage of. However, your call to anger is a bit misguided -- anger is a degenerative that destroys relationships, families, and organizations. I believe a greater emotion to call us to, a higher emotion, is that of a selfless-love. A kind of caring that isn't centered in me -- but centered in me doing the best for those who are around me... I believe this kind of love can serve as a true foundation for the kind of action you are calling us to. If you think about it, the statement "I'm mad as hell" is still focusing on the "me". Focusing on the "me" doesn't address the needs of the poor or those who are socially oppressed. Being angry disables my ability to listen to those who have an opposing viewpoint, get in their shoes, and have a productive conversation about our differing viewpoints.

6:09 AM  
Blogger Teresa said...

Get busy -- all of us!!

6:13 AM  
Blogger Diallo Sessoms said...

In the words of Malcolm X, we need to improve education by "any means necessary".

6:16 AM  
Blogger hickstro said...

Here is a federal education budget breakdown for 2006:

6:16 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your point about groups making better decisions through diverse individuals coming together is powerful. It is also that groups working together are more powerfull. What can SITE do to help us organize and find ways to lobby policy makers?

6:18 AM  
Anonymous Lillian said...


When I think of advocay, I consider the ways I could convince the decision makers of keeping the grant for which I work under.

I know that unless our Congressmen and Representatives leave their offices and see first hand what we are doing in the classrooms, they will never get a clear picture of what we are really doing in the classroom.

While at this conference, I thought why aren't they here? This would be a good place for them to get an overall view of how their money is being spent.

We care enough to share and learn. Why don't they.

Thank you,


6:19 AM  
Blogger D3tr01t said...

One means to improve our political advocacy and activity is to stir discourse among people not in education.
While we publish in our own journals, how accessible are they to voters who can elect leaders and make change? Can we take what is best from our research and frame it for the layman? Can we develop relationships with national and local media that reach people outside of our own community?
Political advocacy requires communication of our causes, the problems, and educational issues we identify as important to the public who have the power to make change. While we may have knowledge, we must be more effective in our communication of that knowledge to non-educators. Only then can they help us to help them.

6:26 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I believe in advocacy at all levels, including advocacy through direct action and intervention. I don't always have time to wait for a new budget or new legislation, I have a kid next door, in my class who needs advocacy right now. I'm reminding myself that the accumulation of even the smallest good deeds will always make a difference. I'm reminding myself to actually attend to those around me as I advocate in Washington.

Where I come from, a smile is a form of charity as valuable as a pile of gold.

6:28 AM  
Blogger Curby Alexander said...

Yes, it's important that we remember not to be so focused on our "missions" that we bypass those we are wanting to help in the first place. Part of service is pouring a little of ourselves into the lives of those who need to be advocated for.

6:32 AM  
Blogger Ann Thompson said...

PRODUCITVELY TROUBLE THEIR THINKING This is a terrific way to think about interacting with people in power. Thanks, Janet.

6:34 AM  
Blogger amina said...

As advocates of technology use in eductaion how do we justify computers for food and warm clothes?

7:09 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

OK, I am just an observer from outside the conference, but I am concerned with the avoidance of confrontation. Yes, we are caring people. But we also carry the guilty burden of being public servants. This does not lead to blowing our own horn. Too often we are self-deprecating and humble. We may be admired for our congeniality, but we need to be more self-promoting. If we have strong feelings as to "what's right," we are remiss if we do not share them...especially with the folks who are really ignorant and make decisions. Strength is not a negative virtue. You can smile as you challenge what is wrong.

7:35 AM  
Blogger Janet Swenson said...

I think it is right of "Not Mad" to call me to task on my choice of words here. When I chose the word "mad," I chose it because I believe "mad" is an emotion that often drives people to do *something.* On the other hand, I talked about our "ethos" with the general public--our public personna--and I hear "Not Mad" generatively troubling me thinking here--is *mad* the personna I think will cause the broader public to attend to my recommendations? No! You are absolutely right, Not Mad. I guess I want us to be disturbed sufficiently to be moved to action, but I agree with you that I would not want to embrace a personna of anger.

On the other hand, like Anonymous above, I too worry about whether our Ghandi/Mother Theresa (do the right thing) approach has gotten us where we are today. I am at heart a pacifist, so while I can understand Malcolm X's rationale, I'm not sure it would ever feel comfortable or right for me. I had a great conversation with someone (I'm sorry I didn't catch your name) about the frustration borne of not wanting to sink to the levels that others embrace and yet not making significant gains in moving our agenda forward.

Other ideas?

9:13 AM  

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