How do you save school choice? One vote at a time.
Over on our school choice website, http://maineschoolchoice.ning.com, Karen Balas-Coté, who helped lead the effort to preserve school choice in Orland, provides a quick overview of what the Orland school choice supporters did in their successful effort to save choice:
Choice advocates in Orland talked among parents, got phone numbers and
e-mails, and solicited donations from parents to send out a saturation
mailing to every Orland resident that had many points on why Orland
should keep school choice, how to vote to keep school choice, and a
copy of the very lengthy and confusing ballot so people could
understand what they were voting on before they went into the voting
We also put up around 10 large, simple to read, signs telling people
which way to vote to keep school choice, in strategic locations about 2
weeks before the vote. We also talked to Heads of Schools where the
majority of Orland students who choose high schools other than
Bucksport attend. They were helpful with general information and even
sent out a letter to current parents and alumni advocating school
choice and getting out to vote.
Additionally, we encouraged parents and alumni who attended other area
high schools to write letters to the editors of local newspapers in
support of school choice and why.
In other words, a good old fashioned grassroots effort, done on a shoestring and pulled off by dedicated volunteers. It is important to note how little time they had to do this – opponents of choice started circulating a petition to get rid of it in early September. That left Karen and her allies only a few weeks to organize the all-out effort she describes.
Some good lessons here as we move forward, though some of the battles, I think, will be in Augusta, which will require a different approach and much larger and more organized coalition of supporters.