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From the Podcast: School advocacy

Group advocating for schools, featured image for a post on school advocacy with former congressman Mike Ward

November 22, 2017

Discussing school advocacy with former Kentucky Congressman Mike Ward

In this episode of the We Love Schools podcast, host Joel Gagne speaks with former Kentucky Congressman Mike Ward about school advocacy. The two chat about how important it is to effectively communicate with elected officials about school districts as well as how schools can share their stories better.

“Public schools are what America is all about,” Ward says. “The only way to help young people and to help families is to get them a better education.”

“We’re not going to have the jobs that require muscles as time goes by,” Ward says. “We’ll have the jobs that require brains.”

Ward explains that while education wasn’t necessarily at the forefront during the 2016 election, he thinks that will change in future elections. He thinks schools communicating their messages more effectively can go far in advocating for schools with public officials.

“People are very concerned and committed to providing good public education, but they have a hard time understanding what that really means,” Ward explains. “To me, so much of that is the responsibility of school districts to get that message out.”

When asked how schools can more effectively connect with their public officials to advocate for schools, Ward compares school advocacy to reality television. He thinks reality television is so popular because it gives the impression that it tells the stories of real people.

“That’s what school boards have to do,” Ward says. “They should talk about real stories about real people to help elected officials understand what impact that local district is having on their community and their voters.”

“Schools need to get into the business of storytelling, they need to grab their audience with powerful stories,” Gagne agrees.

The two continue to discuss technology that can be leveraged effectively in school advocacy, including virtual town halls, social media and more. It’s all about effectively telling the school’s story in usable forms.

Ward explains that among all the misconceptions about elected officials, the idea that politicians are all rich and don’t care about their constituents is the most inaccurate.

He recommends that you get a message to your elected officials at a public meeting, and if the message is short and effective, they’re likely to remember it.

The two discuss reaching out to elected officials to share school success stories. It’s a win for both parties when elected officials share good news about school districts they represent.

Ward says the biggest way for schools to improve is to share their messages more effectively.

“We need to make sure the good stories, the good news, the positive things about public education get out there, and that’s responsibility of the administrators,” Ward says.

Gagne finishes by asking what book Ward would recommend to listeners of our podcast.

“If you want to learn about what motivates politicians, there are two books,” Ward says. He recommends “The Politics of Ambition” and “What it Takes: The Way to the White House” for anyone who would like to understand elected officials and politicians better.

Interested in learning more about how the Allerton Hill Consulting team can help your school tell your story? Contact us today.

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