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“You are either going to be part of the solution or you will ultimately be a part of the reason why your community fails,” said Carmen Ward, one of the moms participating in the second of a four-part training program, the Advanced Advocacy Series, provided by CEAM. “I want to be part of the solution… I am happy to surrender some time to get the tools I need to advocate for programs that will benefit not only my child but all of the kids.”
The advocacy power of social media
At the training, Carmen and other parent-advocates learned key points on how to effectively use social media. Parents learned how to separate personal and public posts on Facebook, the best ways to use Twitter to mobilize advocates and talk directly to reporters and legislators, and how to create dynamic images which will draw more views.
“I am now going to do a lot more reading on Twitter on the movers and shakers in the movement,” said Carmen. “I think there is a wealth of information that I can tap into there that I did not know was there.”
Habakkuk Cooper, a junior who has seen the difference school choice made in her own life, said the training really helped to focus how she plans to tell her story.
“We now know how to use the tools more efficiently,” she said. “Having this session is wonderful because I can ask questions and have conversations with people.”
Carmen said the next step was for the parents participating in the advanced training session to take that information and share it with other concerned parents.
“We need to empower them to make change and be the change,” she said.
Growth of CEAM parent-advocates gives rise to advanced training sessions.
The ongoing passion and involvement in advocacy by Carmen and other parents has helped CEAM organically develop the Advanced Advocacy Series.
As CEAM has worked with parents throughout Missouri to help them share the transformative stories of school choice over the past several years, a number of parents have stood up and asked for help in becoming even more involved in the education reform movement.
Parents who started just by telling their story through CEAM have, using the training provided by CEAM, testified before the Missouri Legislature and taken active roles in fighting for the value of education reform measures on social media.
As the program continues to grow, parents currently going through the series will act as role models for other parents, sharing their passion and motivation for the movement.
“It is very important to care about your education,” said Habakkuk, noting that her experience with charter schools had motivated her to fight for similar opportunities throughout the state. “I want other students to have a better opportunity for education.”
The final two sessions in the pilot Advanced Advocacy Series, which will be held in June, will focus on media training and public speaking training.
CEAM will be providing similar training in 2017 through a collaborative project with the Missouri Charter Public School Association and will continue to provide advanced training as new parent-leaders emerge.
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