DWC President and Vice President, Kay Blue and Becky Smith, attended Bringing Voices Together: An Education Summit for Florida’s Public Schools on May 18 in Orlando. The event was organized by the Coalition for Florida’s Public Schools. Over 1300 participants, including teachers, parents, pastors, school board members, administrators, civic organizations, and legislators convened to form action strategies to support public education in Florida.
The goals of the event included:
- Articulating the collective wisdom of the participants.
- Seeding new relationships for support going forward.
- Focusing and leveraging clear purpose and effort.
- Identifying and accessing essential resources.
- Generating and sustaining energy and momentum.
- Committing to act.
Based on the legislative trends of the past years, including the most recent legislature, it is clear that Florida Public Schools are under attack. Lack of funding and diversion of funding to the private sector, school safety issues, expanding social and mental health needs, testing requirements, and low salaries for employees in the education sector were all critical concerns that were addressed at the summit. A message of the summit was that “We can agonize or organize.” The summit was a first step in getting all stake holders unified and organized.
Using the World Cafe method for hosting large group dialogue, participants met at rotating tables of 4 to 6 participants to share experiences and ideas. The morning was spent answering the question about what needed to be changed to garner support for public schools. The afternoon revolved around generating action plans and making commitments to make the necessary changes.
Plans of action included strategies for empowering parents, better communication with public school stake holders, especially at the local level, and more widespread and forceful participation in the legislative processes.
All of the ideas generated throughout the day were recorded and will be shared with participants. Follow-up Web events will be used to maintain the coalition and move forward.
The Education Summit Partners included:
- Alliance to Reclaim Our Schools
- Black Women’s Roundtable
- Equality Florida
- Florida Education Association
- Fund Education Now
- Iniciativa Acción Puertorriqueña
- League of Women Voters Florida
- NAACP | Florida State Conference
- Pastors for Florida Children
For more information go to feaweb.org.