I didn’t think I’d need a second blog just to talk about one session on the last day, but this advocacy workshop I attended on the last day is worth mentioning, and my previous blog was awfully wordy!
This advocacy workshop was led by Carolyn Talarr MFA, CAS and Jonnifer Mohr Colett, MEd of the Beaverton Friends of Music. Unaffliated with any Parent-Teacher Association, Beaverton Friends was instrumental in bringing back funding to the arts programs in the Beaverton School District after a 10% budget shortfall resulted in a 30% music education budget cut in 2012. These budget cuts resulted in the lay off of several music teachers or reassignments to music areas in which they did not have expertise. Music programs were also reduced or eliminated.
Because of their success in advocacy, they were the perfect selection for this conference. They identified four areas that are needed for advocacy. First, a community advocacy group should identify the purpose or problem. This problem should be specific, and the group should have in mind a proposal for addressing the desired outcome. Second, the group should identify which people can best aid in reaching the desired outcome. Such helpers can be parents, students, outside organizations and companies, and sometimes covert administration officials. Third, the group should choose the manner in which they can best be persuasive: this includes what the message should be and who should deliver it. Finally, the group should analyze their performance at each step rather than summarize their findings at the end. In doing this carefully defined analysis, the group can be prepared for the next advocacy effort as they will know what worked and what did not work.
This presentation gave me encouragement. While I do intend to join my local PTA, I know I can be a powerful advocate even outside of the PTA. I look forward to contacting local school music programs when I return home.