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For Parents, Teachers, and Communities
~Join the Fight to Protect and Preserve Public Education~
CAPE: Concerned Advocates for Public Education
~Parents and Teachers Working Together to Protect and Preserve
GEM: Grassroots Education Movement
Table of Contents:
1. Educating &Advertising͙
x Create a press release
x Create a blog
x Contact the media
x Create a newsletter
x Advocacy Resources
x Create an advocacy group
x Community Organizing
x Create a petition
x Create a form letter
x Contact Policymakers
x Community Mobilizing
Educate and Advertise
Education and Advertising are the first steps in advocacy. One of the most important
goals, which will provide the foundation for organizing and mobilizing, is to share your
knowledge and to learn from others. Through reaching out to the media and the public,
and by reaching out to other groups, you can successfully spread your message, convey
your 'asks', and network with others who have a common vision or with whom you can find
First Steps: Develop a Message and a set of 'Asks'
x Messaging: An advocacy message is generally 3-5 sentences and communicates
your position and your values. This is different than a slogan, which is generally a
'catchy' one liner that best represents your message.
x Asks: Asks should include a concise list of the outcomes you want based on your
position and values. Asks should be specific and measurable and you should have
data and rationale to support them.
x Develop a platform: A platform can begin with an executive summary, which is a
longer version of your message. The platform can then be broken into sections for
each 'ask'. A general format for this could be:
o Current Policy: State the issue you wish to advocate for or reform
o Position: State your position on the issue
o Rationale: Justify your position with quantitative and qualitative data
o Recommendations: List specific and measurable demands
Creating a Press Release
What is a press release? (From http://www.publicityinsider.com/release.asp )
A press release is pseudo-news story, written in third person that seeks to demonstrate to an editor or reporter
the newsworthiness of a particular person, event, service or product.
How is a press release used?
Press releases are often sent alone, by e-mail, fax or snail mail. They can also be part of a full press kit, or
may be accompanied by a pitch letter.
Press Release Checklist
9 PRESS RELEASE in all caps
9 Contact Person's Name and Information
9 Immediate Release or Release Date (all caps)
9 HEADLINE or TITLE in BOLD/CAPS
9 BODY-who, what, when, where and why.
9 Catchy Text
9 The more written as quotes, the better
9 Basic Font, Double Spaced, Page Numbers, and ### at the end
9 Additional contact information
*A shorter version of a press release, a press advisory, can be released the day before a specific
event less the quotes and bulk information.
EXAMPLE PRESS RELEASE
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: main info
Parent, Student, and Teacher Protesters Demand Explanation
Last Thursday afternoon, JanƵĂƌǇ Ϯϭ͕ ŽŶ L͘ ϳϵ Sƚ͕͘ ĂĐƌŽƐƐ ĨƌŽŵ ƚŚĞ ŵĂǇŽƌ͛Ɛ ŵĂŶƐŝŽŶ͕ ƉĂƌĞŶƚƐ͕ ƐƚƵĚĞŶƚƐ ĂŶĚ ƚĞĂĐŚĞƌƐ ƉĞĂĐĞĨƵůůǇ
ƉƌŽƚĞƐƚĞĚ ĂŐĂŝŶƐƚ ƚŚĞ ĂĚŵŝŶŝƐƚƌĂƚŝŽŶ͛Ɛ ƉƌŽƉŽƐĂůƐ ƚŽ ĨŽƌĐĞ ŵĂƐƐ ĐůŽƐŝŶŐƐ ŽĨ ƉƵďůŝĐ ƐĐŚŽŽůƐ ĂŶĚ ƚŚĞŝƌ ƚĂŬĞŽǀĞƌ ďǇ ĐŚĂƌƚĞƌ
schools. They were exercising their constitutional right under the First Amendment to publicly demand that these policies
that undermine the public school system and deprive their children of an adequate education be stopped.
Meanwhile, a reporter on the scene caught on videotape the actions of police who were taking photographs of the protesters
from the roof and inside a private school across the street. In 1985, the federal court ruled that it is illegal and a violation of
civil rights for the New York City police to take photos of protesters, unless they have cause to believe that a crime may be
committed. The city signed a consent agreement that year, restricting police surveillance according to these rules, called the
Handschu Guidelines. In the case of this peaceful protest, there was no such cause. The video is available on YouTube at
The protesters are asking for a full explanation as to why the pictures were taken and how the police plan to use the photos.
The protestors also want to know whether any videotaping of them was done. Finally, they are considering filing a complaint
with Judge Charles S. Haight Jr., the federal judge who has continuing jurisdiction over the enforcement of the Handschu
Lydia Bellahcene, a parent at PS 15 in Red Hook Brooklyn where the DOE is proposing an extension of a charter school co-
ůŽĐĂƚŝŽŶ͕ ƐĂŝĚ͕ ͞MĂǇŽƌ 8ůŽŽŵďĞƌŐ ĂŶĚ ŚŝƐ ĐŽ-horts can not be allowed to dismantle public education. I am outraged that
there was this kind of surveillance at a peaceful protest of mothers and others. We broke no laws, and the NYPD should not
ďĞ ĂůůŽǁĞĚ ƚŽ ǀŝŽůĂƚĞ ƚŚĞ ůĂǁƐ ĨŽƌ MĂǇŽƌ 8ůŽŽŵďĞƌŐ͛Ɛ ďĞŶĞĨit either. The mayor and the NYPD should get used to these
ƉƌŽƚĞƐƚƐ͕ ďĞĐĂƵƐĞ l ĂŶĚ ŵŽƚŚĞƌ͛Ɛ ĂĐƌŽƐƐ ƚŚĞ ĐŝƚǇ ǁŝůů ďĞ ĚŽŝŶŐ ŝƚ ĂŐĂŝŶ͘͟
Lisa Donlan, public school parent and the President of the Community Education Council of District 1 on the Lower East Side,
ƐĂŝĚ͗ ͞1ŚĞ ŝůůĞŐĂů ƐƵƌǀĞŝůůĂŶĐĞ ŽĨ Ă ƉĞĂĐĞĨƵů ŐƌŽƵƉ ŽĨ ŽƌĚĞƌůǇ͕ ŽƌŐĂŶŝǌĞĚ ƉƌŽƚĞƐƚĞƌƐ is yet another example of this
administration's autocratic and unreasonable rejection of the voices of parents, students, teachers and taxpaying citizens in
this city. Mayoral control has already attenuated our opinions to the point of irrelevance; by treading on our basic First
Amendment rights to gather and protest peacefully last week this Mayor has once again shown his true colors: they are NOT
ƌĞĚ͕ ǁŚŝƚĞ ĂŶĚ ďůƵĞ͘͟
͞1ŚĞ ŝŶƚĞŶƐĞ ƉŽůŝĐĞ ĨŽƌĐĞ ĂŶĚ ƐƵƌǀĞŝůůĂŶĐĞ ŽĨ Ă ƉĞĂĐĞĨƵů ŐƌŽƵƉ ŽĨ ƉĂƌĞŶƚ͕ ƐƚƵĚĞŶƚ͕ ĂŶĚ ƚĞĂĐŚĞƌ ƉƌŽƚĞƐƚĞƌƐ ůĂƐƚ 1ŚƵƌƐĚĂǇ
ŚŝŐŚůŝŐŚƚƐ Ă ĐůĞĂƌ ĂƚƚĞŵƉƚ ďǇ MĂǇŽƌ 8ůŽŽŵďĞƌŐ͛Ɛ AĚŵŝŶŝƐƚƌĂƚŝŽŶ ƚŽ ƐŝůĞŶĐĞ ĂŶĚ ŝŶƚŝŵŝĚĂƚĞ ƐƚĂŬĞŚŽůĚĞƌƐ ŝŶ ĞĚƵĐĂƚŝŽŶ ƉŽůŝĐǇ͘
The hallmark of this Administration has been to deny and disenfranchise the voices of parents in the debates surrounding
school policies, such as school closings and charter school invasions. This is a clear intent to dissuade active participation in
advocacy efforts ŽŶ ƚŚĞŝƌ ĐŚŝůĚƌĞŶ͛Ɛ ďĞŚĂůĨ͕͟ ƐĂǇƐ !ƵůŝĞ CĂǀĂŶĂŐŚ͕ ƚĞĂĐŚĞƌ ÞS ϭϱ͕ ͞WĞ ǀŝĞǁ ƚŚĞƐĞ ĂĐƚŝŽŶƐ ĂƐ Ă ǀŝŽůĂƚŝŽŶ ŽĨ ŽƵƌ
Đŝǀŝů ůŝďĞƌƚŝĞƐ ĂŶĚ ǁŝůů ĐŽŶƚŝŶƵĞ ŝŶ ŽƵƌ ƐƚƌƵŐŐůĞ ƚŽ ƉƌŽƚĞĐƚ ŽƵƌ ĐŚŝůĚƌĞŶ͛Ɛ ƉƵďůŝĐ ĞĚƵĐĂƚŝŽŶ ƐǇƐƚĞŵ ĂŶĚ ŽƵƌ lŝƌƐƚ AŵĞŶĚŵĞŶƚ
Name: Contact info
Name: Contact info
Contact The Media!
Make your story public. 8VHQHZVSDSHUVDQGEORJVWREULQJDWWHQWLRQWR\RXUVFKRRO¶VVWUXJJOH Contact reporters, but remember it is not
legal to meet with members of press in your school building. Do not overlook free weekly papers. Often, these papers will send a reporter to
your meetings, public hearings and protests. If your story is mentioned in any paper, make sure community members leave comments online
when available. Remember, when you are dealing with the media, you cannot control the nature of the piece or how the reporter chooses to
use your quotes.
Daily News: Juan Gonzalez firstname.lastname@example.org, Meredith Kolodner email@example.com
Elizabeth Lazarowitz with ELazarowitz@nydailynews.com, Rachel Monahan firstname.lastname@example.org
Tel: (212) 807-4600 email: email@example.com
New York Post:
Yoav Gonen (Education Reporter) firstname.lastname@example.org
New York Times
Jennifer Medina: email@example.com
Free Weekly Papers: &RQWDFW<RXU&RPPXQLW\¶V)UHH:HHNO\3DSHU
Visit www.yournabe.com, this website has links for free weeklies for all neighborhoods in Brooklyn, Queens and The Bronx. You can search
for education articles to learn who covers these issues; you may find links to school articles where you can leave comments. Below are other
free weekly papers.
Brooklyn Eagle Mary Frost firstname.lastname@example.org The Brooklyn Paper Newsroom@CNGLocal.com (718) 260-4504
The Queens Chronicle Send press releases to: lizrqchron.com
Education Editor: email@example.com
The Indypendent: www.indypendent.org phone: 2112-904-1282
Call or Email News Tips:
Daily News News Tips Hotline: (212) 210-NEWS Channel 12 Brooklyn News: 718-861-6818
Fox 5: http://www.myfoxny.com/subindex/news/news_tips
New York 1: 212-69106397 Education Reporter Lindsey Christ:
firstname.lastname@example.org NY Post: 212-930-8500
New York Times: 212-556-1234 or email@example.com PIX News: 212-210-2411
WABC Channel 7 News Desk: 2120456-3100
WCBS Channel 2 News: NEWSLINE: 800-CH-2-NEWS
Assignment Desk: 212-975-5867
WNBC Channel 4 News Tips: http://www.nbcnewyork.com/contact-us/
Creating a Newsletter
Though print media seems to be under severe attack due to the growth of the internet, the impact of distributing hard copy
directly into people's hands should not be underestimated. Paper still works very effectively. It is the only way to get your
message out at meetings and events. And paper travels. As an organizing tool it can be shared hand to hand or hung up on
bulletin boards. As advocacy, it has an impact on policy makers and politicians. As an education tool, a well-reasoned case can
move people to action.
Organizing a newsletter committee
A newsletter is only effective if it is published on a regular basis. This is more difficult than people imagine, so initially, keep
the goals modest. Once a month might be a good way to start. It is best to have a few people involved to share the work and
make basic decisions. When one person dominates, only that point of view gets emphasized. Decide what information you want
to put out. If you want to notify people of upcoming events that makes the newsletter extremely time sensitive.
Based on how often you want to publish and the amount of information you need to get out, decide on a format. The easiest and
cheapest is a one-sided letter size. If you need more space, go to legal size (sometimes harder to manage in distribution) or 2-
sided letter size (doubles the expense). Consider distribution factors in making format choices. Do you want to send it out as a
pdf to have others print and hand out? Two-sided makes it tough for people to do.
A more expensive option is using 11x17 sheets folded sideways into a 4-page booklet, which gives you 3 letter size pages, the
equivalent of 2 sheets of 2 sided letter size stapled together. Few home printers can print in this format and going to a Staples or
Kinkos is often necessary. But if you have access to a risograph you can do it on that (some machines conscript the borders
severely and you might lose a few inches.) This format is very readable and if costs are not too far off, a better choice than
staples sheets. You can also bump to another page as an insert or 2 full 11x17 pages, the equivalent of 8 letter size pages. This
might allow you to put more info in each edition and print less often.
Another and cheaper option if you are printing large amounts in the thousands is to go to a tabloid newsprint format, but then
you have to deal with a large scale printer. But the prices really drop as the numbers grow. For instance, an 11x15 4 page layout
(which uses one sheet of newsprint) - the equivalent of 8 letter size pages and offers what seems like endless space for a nice
layout - will cost around 250-300 dollars for 3000 copies. The cost per copy drops as you increase the run. A printer to check
out is Expedi. 718 417 0900 in east Williamsburg near the Queens border.
Writing the articles, Graphics, Layout: there are pros that do this but it is learnable, Printing, Distribution: Consider how and
where this will be handed out and to what audience (producing the newsletter is only half the job), and Budget.
Many people find Microsoft Word adequate. Others use Publish (I don't believe this is available on Macs). A more
sophisticated program on a professional level is Adobe's In Design, which is what I use. There is a bit of a learning curve but it
gives you every tool a professional has. You would also want a Photoshop type program to handle graphics.
V1 #1 GEM - Grassroots Education Movement to Defend Public Education November, 2009
Harlem`s PS 123 Fights ~Separate & Unequal¨ Schooling
Prior to the invasion of its space a year ago by the Harlem Success Academy (HSA2) charter school, PS 123 was rated by
the DOE as a successful school, thus undermining one of the major reasons for the existence of charter schools in the first place
- the claim they are a remedy for failing schools. Why are charter schools invading the spaces of A- rated schools?
HSA`s CEO. Eva Moskowitz. claims her schools excel due to 'revolutionary¨ teaching strategies. when in Iact these schools
are gaining a reputation as test-prep factories. Every effort is made to court the best students via data banks and mailing lists
from the DOE, provide smaller class sizes, and use a lottery system that self selects the most involved parents. The out-
resourcing and out-funding compared to public schools has widened the separation and inequality.
This past summer, Harlem Success took away an entire floor Irom PS 123. Movers came in and removed teachers`
materials from their rooms and placed them in the halls. Teachers came into the school in protest and physically blocked access
to their rooms. Demonstrations were held but the DOE, as it always does, favored the charter school. PS 123 lost two science
labs, half a library, a social studies room, and a PTA room with computers for GED classes. The separate and unequal treatment
is evident by viewing HSA`s Iacilities: newly painted halls. state oI the art science labs, renovated bathrooms with bright wall-
tiles, toilets & sinks, rooms with high-tech smart-boards, rugs, air conditioners, modern lighting, newly tiled floors and re-wired
electricity. Elite facilities are set aside for the 3rd floor HSA charter students while, the PS 123 students are treated as inferiors
with older. inadequate and worn out Iurnishings & Iacilities. The DOE and the HSA`s callous 'separate and unequal¨ practices
are destructive. Equitable and quality public schooling for all is essential. Parents, teachers and the community continue to
protest but the deceptions continue. See photo of rally at PS 123 on reverse side.
PS 15K/CAPE Battles PAVE Charter in Red Hook
When teachers and parents at PS 15 of Red Hook, Brooklyn were informed that the PAVE charter school was going to occupy
space in their building, they began to organize to preserve their space. PAVE promised to vacate in two years, claiming they
were looking Ior space. But it didn`t take long Ior PAVE to pull the charter school 'bait and switch¨. Once they had their Ioot
in the door, they requested more space. Given this behavior, the recent request to extend their stay from two to five years
should not come as a total surprise, despite the fact that the UFT - playing their usual role oI controlling the 'militant¨ activism
of their teachers- had assured that PAVE would not stay beyond the two years requested.
Understanding that there would be no assistance from the UFT, the PS 15 community organized to form their own organization
the Concerned Advocates for Public Education (CAPE). Hearing of the work GEM was doing exposing Harlem charter
schools, CAPE reached out for support as they organized community forces to attend the September District 15 CEC meeting.
At the meeting, PS 15 parents and staff engaged in a raucous debate with the parents of PAVE. (Video available at
http://ednotesonline.blogspot.com/). CAPE continued their efforts with a table at the Atlantic Antic street fair, gathering
hundreds of signatures calling on PAVE to leave PS 15 as promised. But as expected, the DOE ruled for PAVE. CAPE
(capeducation.blogspot.com) and GEM are soon planning a conference on charter schools issues.
What Is Wrong With Charter Schools?
GEM opposes the concept of charter schools as an alternative to struggling public schools, which are often shortchanged the
resources necessary to succeed. Charter schools are under the complete control of a private enterprise within a public school
district. Although taxpayer-funded, charters operate without the same degree of public and district oversight of standard public
schools. While we understand the need of parents and teachers to find alternatives to failing public schools, the answers lie in
the public sphere. The short-term answers offered by the privatization movement as epitomized by charters will turn into long-
term disasters for parents, students, teachers and the future of public education.
PS 15 parents, students, teachers rally
Send firstname.lastname@example.org your stories or articles. Anonymity guaranteed
UFT UNION = Your BOSS At UFT Charter Schools A GEM member writes: At a union meeting, I
ran into a Iriend who now teaches at a UFT run charter school. 'We are drowning in work. The UFT
Charter School demands so much of our personal time. We must volunteer too much. If one decides to
marry and have kids. one would have to quit!¨ Abruptly. his voice Iell silent. In a low voice. he explained.
'I can`t talk. My BOSS is approaching and I can`t have him see me talking to you (GEM).¨ I was shocked
to see that this approaching boss is 'our¨ UFT Vice-President Leo Casey! A school BOSS as a union
advocate?! How can this be? Rank and file teachers are faced with the problem that the UFT itself has
bought into so much of the system - having two charter schools of its own, with both occupying space in
public schools in East NY which competing Ior public school kids. The UFT`s ability to help teachers
fight back invading charter schools has been compromised. In schools like PS 123 and PS 15, the UFT
remains on the sidelines. Can the UFT complain about charter invasions? The argument that these UFT
charter schools are unionized seem irrelevant considering that the staff workload load mirrors those
working at non-unionized charter schools.
Harlem`s PS 197 Faces Charter Takeover
In Feb. 2009, PS 197M was denied its application to extend its elementary school to the 7th grade. Soon
after, the school was ordered to scrap the entire 6th grade, turning it into a Pre-K to grade 5 school. This
triggered speculation among the staII: 'Are they going to close down the school? Is a Charter School
The suspicions were justified when Democracy Prep charter school targeted PS 197M`s space Ior their
own 6th graders. The DOE orchestrated the plan for the charter school to take PS 197M`s sixth graders
from the beginning. The staff at PS 197M was shaken at the turn of events. 5th and 6th-grade students
were forced to graduate together because there was no place for the current 5th graders to go the fol-
lowing school year (2009-2010).
Meanwhile, Democracy Prep and DOE officials scouted for rooms they wanted. They ended up with six
rooms on the second floor, upsetting some PS 197M parents. PS 197M opened with 450 students from
Pre-K to Grade 5. Democracy Prep opened with 103 students and five 6th-grade classrooms which were
renovated and furnished with brand new furniture for the teachers and students. The renovation made the
classrooms inviting, in stark contrast to the non-renovated classrooms in the public school part of the
Democracy Prep Charter claims it has its own building in construction and would occupy part of the
second floor of PS 197M for only two years. But schools have heard that story before (see article on PS
15/PAVE). Charter schools don`t give up space that easily. It will take a struggle to get them out after two
Teachers and parents rally at PS 123 in July to protest Harlem Success charter invasion
Charter Kicks Public Schools Kids Out of THEIR Library
'Theres this whole librarv full of new books bought for our school. and we cant even use it.` ----8th
grader at MS 126K
Middle school students at MS 126 in Brooklyn have lost nearly all access to their newly renovated
school library. The librarian managed the renovation herself by bringing in numerous volunteers during
the past year. Just as the job was completed, the library was taken over by three charter schools that share
the same building in exchange for some gymnasium space. Students now have access to half the original
library for only two hours per day. Library instruction takes place in classrooms using laptops. A student
pointed out the location of the neighborhood public library was dangerous. For many children, especially
those who live in high-poverty areas, the school library is the only source of reading material. The
charters and MS 126 both lost out on this deal. MS 126 lost most of its access to its own school library,
while the three charters are utilizing the library ineffectively. View Middle School 126 Library to make way
for a Charter School Teachers Lounge on the GEM blog or at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-gJCdIx_n0U.
Creating a blog or web site
Of course, hard copy must also partner with
the internet and using listserves, blogs and
web sites to dovetail with the message in the
hard copy should not be neglected.
Uploading pdfs: Get a free account at scribd:
People could download newsletters to extend
How do web sites and blogs differ?
A web site takes some technical skill and can incur some expense for an effective site. Changes often
mean uploading files. Design factors can enter into the equation. There are free web hosting sites. Do a
search. Here is one: http://www.freewebsites.com/
Blogs are much easier to manage than web sites but you have limited control over the real estate.
It can take as little as 10 minutes to have a blog up and running. Blogs are linear - latest posts are at the
top. You have some control over the order they appear in by manipulating the publication dates. But your
posts scroll down with age and eventually disappear into the archive section.
You can also use the side panel(s) to put up information that is visible on a more permanent basis.
One of the simplest blogging environments is blogger,
owned by Google. https://www.blogger.com/start
Another is Word press
http://wordpress.org/ which seems a touch more
complex to manage than blogger.
How to find your local representatives: simply enter your zip code, and it lists all the government
representatives at each level, and their contact info:
Advocates for Children: http://www.advocatesforchildren.org/
AFC promotes access to the best education New York can provide for all students, especially students of
color and students from low-income backgrounds. We use uniquely integrated strategies to advance
systemic reform, empower families and communities, and advocate for the educational rights of
Class Size Matters: http://www.classsizematters.org/
Class Size Matters is a non-profit, non-partisan clearinghouse for information on class size and the
proven benefits of smaller classes. We also advocate for class size reduction in NYC, where our students
continue to suffer from being crammed into the largest classes in the state and some of the largest in
CEJ, Coalition for Educational Justice: http://www.nyccej.org/
Led by parents, the NYC Coalition for Educational Justice is organizing a movement to end the inequities
ŝŶ ƚŚĞ ĐŝƚǇ͛Ɛ ƉƵďůŝĐ ƐĐŚŽŽů ƐǇƐƚĞŵ͘ WĞ ĂƌĞ Ă ĐŽůůĂďŽƌĂƚŝǀĞ ŽĨ ĐŽŵŵƵŶŝƚǇ-based organizations and unions
whose members include culturally diverse parents, community members, students and educators. We
are motivated by the urgent need to obtain a quality and well-rounded education for all students. We
will mobilize the power of parents and the community to affect policy change and create a more
equitable educational system.
GEM, Grassroots Education Movement: www.grassrootseducationmovement.blogspot.com
The Grassroots Education Movement (GEM) to Defend Public Education is a coalition of NYC groups that
educates and mobilizes educators, parents, students and our communities against the corporate and
government policies that underfund, undermine and privatize our public school system. GEM advocates
both within and outside the UFT for the equality and quality of public education services and the rights
of school workers.
AQE, Alliance for Quality Education: http://www.aqeny.org/
Founded only in 2000, the Alliance for Quality Education (AQE) has quickly become New York state's
lead community-based organization in the fight for high quality public education. A statewide non-profit,
AQE unites a coalition of over 230 organizations of parents, children's advocates, schools, teachers,
clergy, and others. AQE believes it will take fair funding and smarter spending to support better schools
and give every child in New York State a quality education from pre-K to high school graduation. Truly
statewide, AQE has active community-based education coalitions in Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse, the
Capital District (Albany), New York City and Long Island.
Teachers Unite: http://teachersunite.net/
Teachers Unite is the only membership organization of public school educators building power to
demand that our union stand for educational justice, and to win social justice demands for the low-
income and working communities of New York City. Members participate in our programs that develop
leadership and organizing skills, while establishing collaborative relationships with community
organizations fighting for meaningful social change. We believe that a strong organization of activist
teachers, working in coalition with parents and students, will transform our city, and its schools, to best
serve all New Yorkers.
CPE, Coalition for Public Education: http://forpubliced.blogspot.com/
The Coalition for Public Education/Coalición por la Educación Pública is an independent, non-sectarian,
and non-governmental organization with short, middle and long-term educational and social goals. We
believe that education is a human right and we want to ensure that New York City public schools are
places of learning in which all stakeholders (parents, students, educators, non-pedagogical staff,
administrators and the community) are engaged in a democratic process to provide a free and quality
education to all its students, from Pre-school to College.
Time Out From Testing: http://timeoutfromtesting.org/
Time Out From Testing is a statewide coalition of parent, educator, business, community, and civil rights
organizations in New York State committed to a "time-out" from excessive and high stakes exams. We
call for a comprehensive review of the Regents exams and state-initiated standardized tests and the
impact they have had on our children, our schools, and our communities.
New York State Board of Regents: http://www.regents.nysed.gov/contacts/
The Regents are responsible for the general supervision of all educational activities within the State,
presiding over The University and the New York State Education Department. The Regents are organized
into standing committees and subcommittees whose members and chairs are appointed by the
Chancellor. The Board comprises 16 members elected by the State Legislature for 5 year terms: 1 from
each of the State's 12 judicial districts and 4 members who serve at large. Regents are unsalaried and
are reimbursed only for travel and related expenses in connection with their official duties.
Make the Road New York: http://www.maketheroad.org/whatwedo_publiced.php
Promoting Full Participation by Immigrant Parents nĞǁ ?ŽƌŬ CŝƚǇ͛Ɛ uĞƉĂƌƚŵĞŶƚ ŽĨ LĚƵĐĂƚŝŽŶ ŚĂƐ
responded to our participatory action research, direct action and strategic policy advocacy by issuing
ŶĞǁ CŚĂŶĐĞůůŽƌ͛Ɛ ƌĞŐƵůĂƚŝŽŶƐ ƚŚĂƚ ƌĞƋƵŝƌĞ ƚƌĂŶƐůĂƚŝŽŶ ƐĞƌǀŝĐĞƐ Ăƚ Ăůů nĞǁ ?ŽƌŬ CŝƚǇ ƐĐŚŽŽůƐ ĂŶĚ ďǇ
investing over twelve million dollars annually in a new Translation and Interpretation Services Unit to
ensure that hundreds of thousands of New York City parents with limited English can participate
meaningfully in the education of their children.
New York State Council of School Superintendents: http://www.nyscoss.org/
The New York State Council of School Superintendents is a professional and advocacy organization with
over a century of service to school superintendents in New York State. The Council provides its more
than 800 members with numerous professional development opportunities, publications and personal
services, while advocating for public education and the superintendence.
Statewide School Finance Consortium: http://www.statewideonline.org/
The Statewide School Finance Consortium (SSFC) is a statewide organization of public school districts
ĂůůŝĞĚ ƚŽ ƌĞĨŽƌŵ nĞǁ ?ŽƌŬ SƚĂƚĞ͛Ɛ ĚǇƐĨƵŶĐƚŝŽŶĂů ƐĐŚŽŽů ĂŝĚ ƐǇƐƚĞŵ͘ Member school districts speak with
one voice in joining with overburdened taxpayers throughout Upstate to ask the Legislature and
Governor to drastically reform the system of financing schools primarily by property taxes.
New York State Association of Small City School Districts: http://scsd.neric.org/
Campaign for Fiscal Equity: http://www.cfequity.org/
Founded in 1993, The Campaign for Fiscal Equity, Inc., a not-for-profit corporation, is a coalition of
parent organizations, community school boards, concerned citizens, and advocacy groups. We seek to
reform New York State's school finance system to ensure adequate resources and the opportunity for a
sound basic education for all students in New York City. Our efforts will also help secure the same
opportunity for students throughout the state who are not currently receiving a sound basic education.
Citizen Action of New York: http://www.citizenactionny.org/
Citizen Action of New York is a statewide membership organization founded in 1983. We have individual
members and are a coalition of labor, senior citizen, women's, student, tenant and community
organizations that works with community activists for social and economic justice. We fight for quality
affordable health care for all, jobs that pay living wages with decent benefits, expanded Medicare
coverage for seniors that includes prescription drugs, strong investment in public education and after-
school programs, campaign finance reform, an end to corporate tax loopholes and tax breaks for the
wealthy, and consumer protections.
Northwest Bronx Community and Clergy Coalition: http://www.northwestbronx.org/improveedu.html
We engage parents, students, school staff and concerned community members to improve the quality
of public education for all children in the Northwest Bronx community.
Community Service Society: http://www.cssny.org/
The Community Service Society (CSS) engages in advocacy, research and direct service to champion
better job opportunities to break the cycle of intergenerational poverty among low-income New
Yorkers. Our work is particularly targeted toward communities of color that have been historically
disadvantaged and now comprise the majority of our city. We use a variety of tools to encourage
decision makers in the public and private sectors to support measures to help these hard-working New
Yorkers get ahead. CSS promotes policies and programs that result in systemic change and advance the
economic security of the working poor and, as a result, strengthens our city.
The Institute for Education and Social Policy: http://steinhardt.nyu.edu/iesp/
The Institute for Education and Social Policy conducts non-partisan scientific research about U.S.
education and related social issues. Our research, policy studies, evaluations, seminar series, and
technical assistance inform and support policy makers, educators, parents and others in their efforts to
improve public schooling.
The Center for Immigrant Families: http://www.c4if.org/
Center for Immigrant Families (CIF) is a collectively-run and popular education based organization for
low income immigrant women of color and community members in Manhattan valley (Uptown NYC).
We build from an approach that recognizes the intersectionality of oppressions, and locate our most
powerful resistance as one that can emerge from the strength of who we are as women, caregivers,
economŝĐ ƉƌŽǀŝĚĞƌƐ͕ ƐƵƌǀŝǀŽƌƐ͕ ĂŶĚ͕ ĞƐƐĞŶƚŝĂůůǇ͕ ĂƐ ƚŚĞ ͞ŐůƵĞ͟ ƚŚĂƚ ŚŽůĚƐ ŵĂŶǇ ŽĨ ŽƵƌ ĐŽŵŵƵŶŝƚŝĞƐ
together. We organize to transform the conditions of injustice we face and their multi-layered impact on
our own lives and that of our communities.
Blogs, People and Organizations to Follow and/or Contact:
GEM, Grassroots Education Movement: http://grassrootseducationmovement.blogspot.com/
CAPE, Concerned Advocates for Public Education: http://capeducation.blogspot.com
Ed Notes Online, by Norm Scott: http://ednotesonline.blogspot.com/
CPE, Coalition for Public Education: http://forpubliced.blogspot.com/
NYCoRE, New York Collective of Radical Educators: http://www.nycore.org/
ISO, International Socialist Organization (NYC District): http://www.nycore.org/
Teachers Unite: http://www.teachersunite.net/
Organizing is no easy task. It takes perseverance, leadership and persistence to organize
individuals and communities. This is a process, one that should begin with a dedicated group of
individuals who share a common vision or goal. Organizing can take many forms, from a team
of people advocating around a single issue, to the development of an advocacy group that
works for one or many issues. In either case, the steps and process are similar: create points of
unity, create a process structure, create goals and asks, and then take action.
Creating an Advocacy Community-Based Group
Parent-Teacher-Community groups are key to advocacy work. The current climate regarding
school governance, policy, and education reform disenfranchises key stakeholders from
participating in educational conversations key to the success of our schools. All stakeholders
should be involved in decision making that affects our children and communities. If the space
for this involvement is not being facilitated by our policy makers and decision makers,
communities should find ways to demand their voices be heard. In creating a community based
organization, consider the following:
x Join parents, teachers, and community members together in community meeting
x Develop a shared vision, group name, and mission.
x Develop a message, asks, and platform (see educate section).
x Create an organization and process structure that works for your group. Will you have a
leadership team? How will decisions be made? Who speaks for the group? How are
meetings run and how is the agenda set?
x Develop a series of tools and actions your group will use and undertake. (media
outreach, education outreach, meeting with policy makers, rallies, forums,
ĚŝƐƐĞŵŝŶĂƚŝŽŶ ŽĨ ŵĂƚĞƌŝĂů͙Ϳ
x CƌĞĂƚĞ ŵĂƚĞƌŝĂůƐ ƚŽ ƉƌŽŵŽƚĞ ǇŽƵƌ ŐƌŽƵƉ͛Ɛ ĂŐĞŶĚĂ͗ ďƵƐŝŶĞƐƐ ĐĂƌĚƐ͕ ĨůǇĞƌƐ͕ ŚĂŶĚŽƵƚƐ͕
x Set goals and benchmarks
x Network with other advocacy and community groups
A School-Community-Based Advocacy Group Model: CAPE, Concerned Advocates for Public Education
CAPE joins together parents, teachers, and community members in Red Hook, Brooklyn. CAPE was created in
response to a co-location and extension of a charter school in their successful community public school.
Stakeholder voices in the community were disenfranchised from the conversation involving the co-location of
the charter and through the process, parents and teachers realized the importance of their voice in the larger
education reform debate. Through their advocacy regarding their school, those involved learned the
importance of parent and teacher activism in education reform and see their role in the larger educational
policy and reform movement. For far too long, beginning in 1989 when George Bush Sr. called the first
educational summit led by then Governor Clinton where not one parent or teacher was invited, stakeholder
voices have been ignored and silenced when it comes to the education of our children. Below please find the
process CAPE used from inception through today to advocate on behalf of their children and school
o First Meeting: Set vision and mission, created name, message, and a series of asks and goals
o The group structure was inclusive, open, and democratic/consensus driven the only official role
created was a treasurer
o Group set specific positions and policy recommendations creating a platform for the group
o Group created Google group for efficient communication and information sharing, group email for
outside contact on behalf of the group, group Facebook and Twitter page for education and
networking, blog created for education and information sharing
o Later Meetings: teams and individuals discussed plans of action and took responsibility for various
group work including:
¾ meeting with policy makers (where asks and vision were presented)
¾ materials creation and dissemination (business cards, bookmarks, flyers, form letters,
petitions, policy maker contact sheets, op ed letters and posts, letter writing)
¾ networking with other groups and organizations, education outreach (tables at city or
community events, attending other group/organization meetings, participation in and
organizing of forums in and outside of the community)
¾ media outreach (press releases, interviews, contact)
¾ community outreach (canvassing, community meetings ʹrefreshments, materials, copies,
¾ ĞǀĞŶƚ ƉůĂŶŶŝŶŐ ;ƌĂůůŝĞƐ͕ ƉƌŽƚĞƐƚƐ͙Ϳ
¾ education outreach (blog, articles, interviews, public speaking, networking)
Start conversations within the school and school community. Visit your PTA room, speak with your
parent coordinator and speak with members of the School Leadership Team. Get a core group together
to discuss your goals and plan your first community meeting.
Once you have a clear vision of what you want to accomplish, you should also begin contacting your
local council members, assembly members and community-based organizations. Also, become familiar
ǁŝƚŚ ǇŽƵƌ ĚŝƐƚƌŝĐƚ͛Ɛ CŽŵŵƵŶŝƚǇ LĚƵĐĂƚŝŽŶ CŽƵŶĐŝů ĂŶĚ ĂƚƚĞŶĚ ƚŚĞŝƌ ǁŽƌŬŝŶŐ ƐĞƐƐŝŽns. Ask for your
ƐĐŚŽŽů͛Ɛ ŝƐƐƵĞ ƚŽ ďĞ ŝŶĐůƵĚĞĚ ŝŶ ĨƵƚƵƌĞ ĂŐĞŶĚĂƐ͘ Network with other community groups such as; parent
teacher organizations, children and women's groups, daycare providers, the legal community, and
Things to Consider:
CŚĂŶĐĞůůŽƌ͛Ɛ 8ĞŐƵůĂƚŝŽŶƐ ƐƚĂƚĞ ƚŚĂƚ ͞SĐŚŽŽů ďƵŝůĚŝŶŐƐ ĂƌĞ ŶŽƚ ƉƵďůŝĐ ĨŽƌƵŵƐ ĨŽƌ ƉƵƌƉŽƐĞƐ ŽĨ ĐŽŵŵƵŶŝƚǇ
Žƌ ƉŽůŝƚŝĐĂů ĞǆƉƌĞƐƐŝŽŶ͘͟Ύ 1ŚŝƐ ŝƐ ŝŵƉŽƌƚĂŶƚ͘ MĂŬĞ ƐƵƌĞ ƚŚĂƚ ǇŽƵ ĚŽ ŶŽƚ ƵƐĞ ƐĐŚŽŽů-owned supplies,
gather on school property or disseminate material on school property.
Meeting: To include as many people as possible, choose a venue in your school community. A local
library meeting room is a good choice. Call your library to reserve space. There may be a local
community organization or agency willing to lend you space, brainstorm with your group to find the
ideal meeting place. Also consider local colleges and churches.
Get the Word Out: Create a flier to distribute. This flier must stress the urgency of the situation and
convey that participation is valuable! Keeping in mind CŚĂŶĐĞůůŽƌ͛Ɛ ƌĞŐƵůĂƚŝŽŶƐ͕ ƚĞĂĐŚĞƌƐ ŵĂŶǇ ŶŽƚ
legally issue notices on campus. Having some teachers, school staff and parents stationed outside
before and after school during dismissal works well.
Communicate: Use a blog or Facebook page to communicate with people who cannot attend meetings
or want more information. Establish an email where core group members can check and reply regularly.
Set an Agenda: Use an agenda to frame the direction of your meeting and be sure your time is well
spent. List each subject you wish to cover and leave time for attendees to ask questions and share
TIPS: How to Conduct the Meeting**
As the meeting convener, you should start by thanking everyone for coming, introducing yourself and
give a brief background on why you are interested in this issue, then have the others do the same. Ask
the group to select the issue(s) they want to discuss, then get the team members to prioritize the
problem(s)/issue(s) to work on. You don't want to overwhelm folks, but share your knowledge with
them. It is also helpful to pass out materials/brochures you found useful. Other suggestions:
Sign-In. Make sure all attendees sign in, giving phone number, address and email. Not all folks who
attend the first meeting are going to come back, but they can be called on to write
letters, make phone calls or do other smaller tasks.
Select a Facilitator. The facilitator is the person who runs the meeting, and also works to ensure
that all people feel comfortable participating. This can be you, but doesn't have to be.
Work with the facilitator to train and support them so they are comfortable with this
role and have the skills to run the meeting effectively.
Note Taker. Make sure that someone (other than the facilitator) takes notes of the key points at the
meetingͶ particularly any "to do" items assigned to attendeesͶ then emails the
meeting notes to all folks in the group a few days after the meeting. This will keep the
people who were not able to attend up to date, and remind attendees of the tasks they
agreed to take on. "To do" tasks or main points can also be written on a flip chart at the
end of the meeting, so everyone has a reminder of their volunteer responsibilities.
Timekeeper. Find a volunteer to ensure that the agenda is followed in a timely manner. This job is
important; you risk losing people if meetings go on too long.
Supplies. Have pens and paper available for attendees, and something large enough for notes for
the whole group Ͷ a blackboard, a flip chart, etc.
Snacks. Have some light snacks Ͷ chips, soda, etc., particularly if it's at a time when people may be
hungry (like after work, but before dinner). Don't spend your time making fancy foods;
store-bought snacks will do the trick.
TIPS: Concluding the Meeting
Follow-up. The work doesn't end when the meeting ends, it really just begins. Before the next
meeting, work should be started on accomplishing your developed plan of action. Most
participants should be given tasks to accomplish before the next meeting. Don't take on
all the tasks yourself, but make sure that attendees are comfortable with their
assignments - you don't want to scare anyone away.
Set the next meeting. Pick a date, time and place while you are all together so that everyone knows
when and where you'll be meeting next.
Community Outreach: Create canvassing teams of parents and teachers to reach out to community
members, businesses, and other schools. These teams, and individuals should also attend other
community and organization meetings to educate, organize, and mobilize others.
x lŽƌ ŵŽƌĞ ŝŶĨŽƌŵĂƚŝŽŶ ŽŶ CŚĂŶĐĞůůŽƌ͛Ɛ 8ĞŐƵůĂƚŝŽŶƐ ǀŝƐŝƚ͗ http://docs.nycenet.edu/docushare/dsweb/Get/Document-
**Taken from www.marininstitute.org
Mobilizing is taking action and getting others to join you and do the same. If there are steps to
advocacy, this would be the last one. Through educating and organizing groups and individuals develop
and share their vision, message, and asks and create spaces for others to join in the process and prepare
to take action. Work up until this point has largely been internal, with some educational and community
outreach. Through mobilizing your work comes to life, it is the realization of your vision and the time
and space is created for those involved to spring into action and create and advocate for change.
This section contains samples of helpful documents for mobilizing, these ideas and others are listed
x Create a petition (a paper example follows, for online petitions use http://www.ipetitions.com).
x Create a survey for data/research based materials (use http://www.surveymonkey.com ).
x Create a form letter (a paper example follows, you can disseminate and collect these in paper
form or digitally to send to policy makers or other decision makers).
x Contact Policy Makers and Decision Makers: Stakeholders should write letters, send faxes (most
effective b/c someone has to pick up that piece of paper), send emails, and make phone calls.
Stakeholders should also go in person to offices; policymakers should give you and/or your
group a meeting if you request one (a paper example of a contact sheet for a community is
attached). Do not underestimate the power of political pressure; elected officials want to be re-
x Plan forums, community meetings, rallies, and protests.
x Attend CEC (Community Education Council), PEP (Panel for Educational Policy) and Community
Board meetings. Attend forums, other organization meetings, and lobbying days.
x Disseminate widely informational materials.
x Speak at public events, invite others from outside of your community to meetings and forums.
x Go Public: make your voice heard in the media, in public spaces, and at various events.
All of the steps of advocacy (educate, organize, mobilize) overlap, when we for example create a petition, its purpose covers
education as it spreads the work of your issue, organizing as it is a capacity building tool for your group, and mobilizing
because members take the issue outside of the group involving themselves and others. However you conceptualize the
information given in this toolkit, we hope you have found it useful and will use it to inspire a connection with others to fight
for public education, or any advocacy goal. Advocacy and activism have been minimized in our society for far too long, the
time has come for all of us to take a more active role in our communities and our country; the people united, cannot be
TARGET: NEW YORK CITY DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION
PRINT NAME ADDRESS SIGNATURE
PAVE ACADEMY MUST LEAVE PS 15K BY THE END OF JUNE 2010
PAVE Academy is currently occupying space in PS15K The Patrick F. Daly School in Brooklyn. When the director,
Spencer Robertson, first approached the school community about his plan to open a charter school in the
PS15K building, he stated that it would only be for two years and that PAVE Academy would leave at the
conclusion of the 2009-2010 school year. This original agreement has since been altered. The PAVE Academy
Charter School is planning on occupying space at PS15K beyond June 2010.This extended occupation will have
a negative impact on the PS15K school community and the students of PS15K will feel the repercussions of
such an action for years to come.
PETITION STATEMENT: WE, THE UNDERSIGNED, DEMAND THAT PAVE ACADEMY VACATE PS15K THE PATRICK
F.DALY SCHOOL AT THE CONCLUSION OF THE 2009-2010 SCHOOL YEAR.
Example Form Letter
*This form letter was created for stakeholders and sent digitally, they can also be sent in paper
version. Other form letters can also include a text box for additional comments.
Dear Chancellor Klein:
We urge you to move to a more central location the Panel for Educational Policy meeting that will decide
the fate of 36 schools, many of which are slated for closure, as well as a host of critical regulations that
relate to parent involvement and the role of parents and teachers in decision making at the school and
We object because this time and location -- January 26 at 6 PM on Staten Island -- does not afford
stakeholders and members of the community who will be most affected by these momentous decisions a
reasonable opportunity to be heard.
The site would take more than an hour and a half to get to for most NYC parents, students, and teachers,
making it impossible for those with daytime responsibilities to get to the meeting in time to comment.
To hold such a meeting in a location and time inaccessible to overwhelming majority of NYC students,
teachers and parents is wrong and legally suspect.
We ask that you respond to this request as soon as possible.
Signature (include name, title, and if you choose contact information)
Contact Policy Makers
Bronx: Ruben Diaz Jr.: email@example.com
Director of Education and Youth: Jesse Mojica 718-590-3515
Brooklyn: Mary Markowitz: firstname.lastname@example.org
Education Policy Analyst: Margaret Kelley 718-802-3839
Manhattan: Scott Stringer: 212-669-8300, email@example.com
Queens: Helen M. Marshall firstname.lastname@example.org
Special Assistant for Education: Roseann Darche 718-286-2626
Staten Island: James P. Molinaro 718-816-2000
Community Education Councils: http://schools.nyc.gov/Offices/CEC/default.htm (there
is a link on the right that says CEC Contacts)
Use these websites to locate and contact your City Council members, State Assembly
members, Representatives and Senators.
New York City Council Members: http://council.nyc.gov/html/members/members.shtml
New York Representatives: http://www.house.gov/house/MemberWWW_by_State.shtml#ny
New York State Assembly: http://assembly.state.ny.us/mem
Panel for Educational Policy Contacts: "Patrick Sullivan"<email@example.com>,"Anna Santos"
<firstname.lastname@example.org>, "Joan Correale" <SIPEPREP@aol.com>, "Dmytro Fedkowskyj"
<email@example.com>, "Gbubemi Okotieuro" <firstname.lastname@example.org>, "Gitte Peng"
<email@example.com>, "Nieves Lisette" <LNieves10@schools.nyc.gov>, "Linda Lausell Bryant"
<firstname.lastname@example.org>, "Chang David C." <email@example.com>, "Philip Berry"
<firstname.lastname@example.org>, "Joe Chan" <email@example.com>, "Tomas Morales"
<firstname.lastname@example.org>, "Tino Hernandez" <email@example.com>
Example Contact Sheet
What can we do to make our voices heard? Contact one or all of the people below to hold the
Department of Education to their promise of a two-year PAVE incubation site at P.S. 15.
Tweed Courthouse, 52 Chambers St. #320B4
New York, NY 10007
212-374-0200, Email- JKlein@schools.nyc.gov
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg
City Hall, New York, NY 10007
Fax: 212-788-2460, Email- http://www.nyc.gov/html/mail/html/mayor.html
Brooklyn, NY 11220
718-439-9012, Email- Gonzalez@council.nyc.ny.us
Dist. Office 718-643-6140, Email- firstname.lastname@example.org
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