A few Excellent tips (and one Excellent idea) to help you stand out in a crowded field…
Setting up shop in a brand new city can be tough—especially when the ground you’ll be trodding upon is already quite well trodden upon. Which is why I’ve assembled this handy *welcome wagon* full of Excellent tips to help you get started. Among my helpful suggestions: always be sure to proofread your press releases, as the Boston Globe will be reprinting them verbatim. And hiring detail cops for the big march over the Zakim will set you back a bundle—better get to work on your grassroots fundraising drive now!
Massage the Message
Like most parents, Boston parents tend to be somewhat *off message* when it comes to how best to improve their schools. Take this poll conducted by a fellow member of the Excellence Lobby, Education Reform Now. Atop the parents’ wish list: more funding, smaller class sizes, greater parent involvement, more arts and music. In other words, *yawn.* So how to convince them that what they really want is more Excellent Schools? Here I must defer to the genius that is DFER. You see, the DFERites discovered that while parents had no particular appetite for the extra long school day that is a hallmark of Boston’s Excellent Schools, their support for the idea expanded when it was explained that an extended day meant less chance of their kids getting shot. Now that’s some pretty Excellent excellence…
Speak for Parents of Students Already Attending Excellent Schools
There are currently 7645 students attending Boston charter schools, which translates into lots of parents whose kids already attend Excellent Schools. And based on the emails I’ve been getting, a fair number of them seem like they could use a little assist from an Excellent organization like yours. Perhaps you could launch a campaign to raise the schools’ uncommonly low graduation rates, or stage a dramatic bridge march on behalf of lowering their Uncommonly high suspension rates. Or here’s a thought—why not lobby some of our Excellent Schools to include an *empowered parent* representative on their boards?
Power Map Your Way 2 Excellence
As you well know, any successful campaign starts with a little power mapping: figuring out who has the power and how you can *move* them to do what you want them to do. Oh sure, it SOUNDS easy enough, unless you’re from someplace far away (like Cambridge, or Brookline.) That’s why I’m suggesting that you make Excellent use of the Excellent public education organizers at Massachusetts Jobs with Justice. I’m betting that these former charter parents will be happy to bring you up to speed on the complex thicket of race, history, politics and real estate that colors every local education debate. Full disclosure: the man to whom I’m *technically* married runs this fine organization and may have bribed me into including this particular item.
Provide Excellent Jobs
As you meet with parents across the city you may notice that in addition to Excellent Schools, many of them could really use an Excellent Job. (Note: here’s a helpful overview of unemployment figures by neighborhood.) That’s why I was so thrilled to learn about your practice of providing many of your parent liaisons with generous stipends. One key to a successful launch in a new city: spreading the wealth.
Keep the Walton Foundation $$ on the DL
Speaking of wealth, here’s a little tip for you: best to let all of that Excellent Walton family money that’s been flowing your way be our little secret. You see, not only are Yankees notoriously close mouthed about the source of their wealth—dahling: it simply isn’t done!—but Bostonians have no love for Walmart. In fact, Boston is one of the few cities that made Walmart blink by insisting that the company pay decent wages and treat its workers fairly. In other words, shhhhhh!
Proofread Those Press Releases
Nothing says welcome to your new home like a great big bear hug from the local newspaper of record (and from one columnist in particular). I’m talking, of course about the Boston Globe (and one columnist in particular). In fact, you can pretty much count on the Globe to reprint your press releases verbatim—so always make sure you do a thorough proofreading job before you share the good news.
Start Fundraising for the Bridge March Now
Since the Longfellow Bridge is currently under construction, you’ll have no choice but to use the Zakim bridge, where routes 93 and 1 come together, for your March Across a Bridge for Excellent Schools. Unfortunately, that means that you’ll need to enlist the aid of the Massachusetts State Police to provide detail services at the Excellent rate of between $40-$80 an hour. Start your grassroots fundraising drive now, and you’ll be good to go by 2016 when the March to Support the Raising of the Charter Cap Ballot Initiative is scheduled to kick off.
Roll Out the Excellent Welcome Wagon
No doubt you’ve noticed in your inaugural tour of Boston that this city is home to an astonishing array of immigrant groups. Almost 50% of students in the Boston Public Schools speak a first language other than English, while 30% are still learning English. Which gives me an Excellent idea. I couldn’t help but notice that the other members of the Excellence Lobby have had nada to say about the brand new immigrant children who will almost certainly be starting school in Boston in a few weeks. Add to the mix that Boston’s Excellent Schools consistently come up short when it comes to enrolling students who don’t yet speak English, and I think we’ve just come up with an Excellent way for you to get your debut off to an Excellent start. Why not volunteer to help Boston’s newest students complete the applications they’ll need to attend one of the city’s Excellent Schools? Did I say *applications*? I meant *enrollment forms*…