Tuesday, October 12, 2010

A Few Tips for Superman’s Handlers

Frederick Hess with some good advice on how to REALLY mobilize people in the wake of WFS:


The education documentary Waiting for "Superman" opened in select theaters last week. The movie's damning indictment of public education, and its enthusiastic portrayal of charter schools, has commanded attention from the likes of Oprah and Geraldo and prompted school reformers to launch and expand efforts intended to exploit this window of opportunity.

Unfortunately, the efforts of reformers on this score aren't yet up to snuff. Even if crowds throng to the movie, experience teaches that the adrenaline will fade when viewers get home, find themselves bombarded by other causes and obligations, and see no obvious means to really affect schooling. Leveraging Superman effectively cannot rest on the wistful hope that advocates can boil the sea of public sentiment and move the nation towards some grandiose new national level of awareness.

..The next steps proffered by Superman's boosters couldn't be farther off that mark. On NBC's Meet the Press, advocates could only encourage would-be reformers to volunteer in their local school, put children first, and contribute more money to schools. In a sidebar to a story on the movie, Entertainment Weekly distilled the suggested steps for reform: pledge to see the movie, text "possible" to 77177 (which will get "news on education reform" sent to your phone), and write a letter encouraging your governor "to fight harder for change."

…Here's some advice for those who would like to see Superman actually help make a difference: Focus on the concrete and actionable, not the broad and vague. Collect e-mail addresses of departing viewers who will put up yard signs for reform-minded school-board candidates and mayors. Encourage supporters to work the phones, their neighbors, and their e-mails to push their state legislators to take the lead on specific changes in statute. Don't settle for pledges to care more, be "engaged," or write letters on behalf of "reform."


A Few Tips for Superman's Handlers
On education reform: Let's get specific.


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