It's right there in the ISTE Standards: Before we can make the cultural shift toward a learning
environment where technology empowers students to take the reins of their own
learning, we need the support of our communities — especially legislators and
policy makers. And there's never been a better time to get it.
As education policy increasingly shifts away from the federal to
the state level, educators have a greater opportunity to help shape the
decisions that directly affect their classrooms. Creating an advocacy plan for
your organization is the first step toward seizing that
In more than 10 years as an ISTE affiliate, the Arizona
Technology in Education Association (AzTEA) has been a staunch ed tech advocate, with members
actively attending Washington, D.C., events such as the upcoming ABCs of Advocacy
workshop. However, it recently became clear
that the organization needed a plan to guide its efforts and help target its
impact on policy makers.
"We learned a lot about how to do advocacy, but we
realized we weren't sure whom we were advocating to and what we were advocating
about," said Chris Johnson, the chair of AzTEA's Public Policy and Advocacy
"We could advocate at the federal level with the help of ISTE, but
what did we want to say to our local legislators?"
During a two-day workshop last summer, AzTEA members worked with
the ISTE Advocacy Network to develop an advocacy
plan that includes the organization's
goals as well as the actions it will take this year to achieve them. Here's what
Johnson had to say about the experience:
How AzTEA developed an advocacy plan
playing a more vocal role at a local level, we had the opportunity to raise
AzTEA's visibility and leadership across the state. This increased visibility
would also help raise ISTE's leadership across the
two days, we were able to:
- Identify and agree upon four key policy issues.
- Develop a short position statement for each policy
- Create a set of general goals for each policy issue.
- Identify a set of advocacy activities for the coming
began by discussing the question: 'Why state advocacy?' This had been answered
for some of us, but other members were new to the discussion. So it was
important to start with this conversation so we all knew why we were
we listed AzTEA's previous and current advocacy work. We, of course, came up
with what we had done at the federal level, but nothing occurred to us for the
local level. However, as we discussed advocacy in terms of the definition
'making your voice heard,' we realized we had been advocating for years through
our website, conferences, and pretty much any time we talked to the public or
then brainstormed a set of key issues. As is often the case, we came up with
plenty. However, after discussion, we were able to identify four key issues that
we knew needed to be addressed:
- Network connectivity
- Professional learning
- Access to resources
we talked about how these issues could be refined into specific policy
statements, we felt it was important to expand the concept of STEM beyond just
the four disciplines of science, technology, engineering and math. Where were
the other disciplines important to a 21st century
learner? One of the participants introduced us to the concept of the
'meta-discipline' of STEM. When viewing STEM in all its facets, we recognized
the importance of all subjects in preparing a literate citizen. We also felt it
was important to expand the concept of 'access to resources' to include all
aspects of a learning ecosystem.
Based on our discussion, we
developed a core belief statement and four sub-statements around each issue.
These are included in AzTEA's Public Policy Statement and
Advocacy Plan , which is available under a Creative
Commons attribution-non-commercial, share alike license.
we brainstormed specific advocacy activities, which we prioritized as either
low-hanging fruit we could tackle this year or longer-range activities. We also
identified other organizations we might partner with to pursue our policy goals
and have begun researching key education and appropriations legislators in
now has a roadmap to show where we're headed and how to get there. Perhaps of
more importance, we have a policy statement that clearly describes what's
important to us as an organization and provides a way to measure how we're
doing. It's also a document we can share with policymakers, other organizations,
parents and the corporate community. With this plan in place, we've begun to
develop a working relationship with the Arizona School Boards Association and
the Arizona Superintendents Association.
During our journey, we found that
the ISTE Advocacy Network offers great resources to help you formulate your advocacy plan. The biggest
step is to simply get started!