Advocacy is an activity by an individual or a group to support or promote a specific issue. In this case, advocacy means supporting efforts to improve Baltimore City Public Schools funding and promoting Baltimore's public schools. Effective advocacy increases public awareness and influences elected officials decisionmaking.
Elected officials in Annapolis and Baltimore need to hear from parents of Baltimore City Public School students; The public needs to recognize and support adequate, fair funding for Baltimore City Public Schools.
How do I influence?
There are various ways to influence decision makers. It may seem appealing to focus on the problem, e.g., "There's not enough money for education!" Effective advocacy is carefully crafted using evidence and persuasion to offer alternative approaches to achieving a goal.
Because Baltimore City Public School's budget shortfall is due to multiple causes there may be multiple approaches to advocacy. For example, causes of reduced revenue include:
the State of Maryland not adjusting its contribution for inflation
Baltimore City's "wealth" (as defined by the formula) is an inaccurate reflection of tax revenue available for education funding
the State of Maryland failing to use revenue from gambling as supposedly earmarked (for education funding).
In each case, advocacy may focus on a different detail: Funding formulas can be changed; revenue streams can be reallocated; inflation adjustments can be mandated.
Who am I trying to influence?
Elected Officials Elected officials in Baltimore and Annapolis need to know that parents care about these budget cuts. Many legislators in Annapolis do not hear from parents of Baltimore City Public School students. As such, many in Annapolis presume that students in Baltimore aren't a priority. State officials need to know that parents of Baltimore City Public School students do care!
Here're some recommendations for how to communicate with your elected officials:
Identify your elected officials: You can identify your Baltimore City Representative at this website. You can identify your state representatives and senator at this website.
Define your "ask". Before you contact your elected officials, you need to know what you want them to do. Just telling them that you care about education is nice, but not what they need. Examples of specific "asks" are available in the materials developed by the Baltimore Education Coalition. A link to these materials is on the Resources page of this website.
Contact your elected officials. In preferred order:
In person. This is the best method, but it's hard to do in real life. You can call and request a face-to-face meeting. More easily, take advantage of community meetings.
By phone. This is a more practical approach. Call your elected officials' office; introduce yourself (name and address) and then "ask".
By fax. Faxing may seem old-fashioned (compared to email), but it's a lot harder to ignore a piece of paper that came out of a machine than it is to ignore an email.
By email. This is the least effective. It's too easy for elected officials' staff to ignore emails.
Parents and the General Public
Talk to your friends and neighbors. Tell them what's happening and how they can help.
Use social media. Whether it's via Facebook, Twitter or other platforms, get the word out! Examples of tweets are available in the materials developed by the Baltimore Education Coalition. A link to these materials is on the Resources page of this website. #EquityNowSilenceNever