Moving the Message

Former Howard Dean campaign manager Joe Trippi, widely regarded for being the first campaign leader to harness the power of the Web, spoke at ASCD’s recent Leadership Institute for Legislative Advocacy. The ASCD InService blog posted this advice:

From the Occupy movement to increasing state-level flexibility in federal education legislation, the significance of being both local and vocal was a major theme of this year’s institute.

“We don’t live in a top-down communication world anymore; messages are peer-to-peer,” explained Trippi. “Anyone can challenge the thinking at the top.” Trippi encouraged educators to use social media to their advantage to build their “army of Davids” and start “handing out slingshots.”

Yet, despite grassroots support, it often seems education policy makers and practitioners speak two different languages. Staffers and educator advocates offered communication strategies for bridging the divide between Capitol Hill and the classroom. For example

- Using anecdotes, espcially stories specific to your the representatives jurisdiction, to illustrate your goals or agenda

- Basing your argument in research

- Identifying what’s working well, what you want to change, and where you can compromise

- Tweaking the rhetoric from “measurement” to “assessment,” and from “compliance” to “engagement”

- Knowing your representative’s voting record and commending like-minded voting

- Asking what issues they’re working on and how you can help

- Follow-up with phone calls, emails, and supplemental materials

“There is a firehose of information coming at your representatives; it’s up to staffers to ge the best to their bosses,” advised one staffer. “Build relationships with staffers and be persistent.”

And ask your friends to join you, included Trippi. “YOU move the message.”

Good advice for getting our message across in tough times!

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