How to fight back against devastating budget cuts

As massive state budget cuts loom, social media networks can help make sure parents, elected officials, reporters, and other stakeholders understand the possible impact on local schools.

Consider uploading budget documents and videos on Facebook, or using RSS feeds and tweets to apprise parents about important votes in the state legislature. LinkedIn makes it easy to upload PowerPoint presentations, extending the audience for face-to-face sessions at PTA nights or faculty meetings.

The key is to focus on news of interest to the end user and provide solid information in a more personal, conversational manner. Stuffy memos written in bureaucratic jargon will fall flat in the informal and highly interactive world of social media.

Rather than inundate stakeholders with budget facts and figures, use social media networks to show stacks of outdated and worn-out textbooks that schools can’t afford to replace, or highlight stories about award-winning teachers who donate their time and dollars to tutor students on weekends or purchase clothing, lunches, and school supplies for young people who otherwise would do without.

Read other recent columns from Nora Carr:

Recognizing the warning signs for teen bullying, suicide

Can eBooks help bridge achievement gaps?

Demographic shifts require changes in school communication

How to avoid committing social media gaffes

How to tailor your school site for mobile web users

Interview cafeteria workers, custodians, and school bus drivers, and upload the audio or video files online to put faces on position cuts. Invite student journalists and the media into schools to see teachers and students working in overcrowded classrooms with inadequate supplies and materials.

When it comes to public opinion and shaping public policy, if educators don’t tell their story, someone else will—and the end result likely won’t benefit the nation’s school children, at least not those served in public schools.

Award-winning eSchool News columnist Nora Carr is the chief of staff for North Carolina’s Guilford County Schools.

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