Few developments have had so great an impact on grassroots advocacy as social media. It’s not hard to understand why: Social media facilitates direct communication between those with credibility in the field and those who make policy—and the benefits are custom-made for education policy. In a 2014 public opinion poll by the Center for American Progress, 82 percent of respondents identified principals as credible and trustworthy on matters of education. Our role at NASSP, then, is to amplify your voices as loudly as possible in the public square, and to provide you with the knowledge and electronic tools to speak confidently to policymakers about the policies that affect your school.
Twitter is considered the “killer app” for reaching members of Congress on social media, and we encourage members to take advantage of it with both ad hoc efforts and more organized campaigns. Day to day there is value in principals tweeting their views and informative links to their members of Congress, whose Twitter handles are usually displayed prominently on their websites.
We also encourage principals to engage in more concentrated efforts to promote specific agenda points while they are being considered on Capitol Hill. To that end, NASSP advocacy staff often live-tweet Capitol Hill hearings with a particular focus on the points that affect principals’ work. During the recent Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) reauthorization hearings, for instance, principals were able to quickly chime in with reactions to provisions on school safety, testing, and the definition of school leader using the #ESEA hashtag.
To more actively promote a perspective, NASSP will advance a Twitter campaign as we did during the Ignite ’15 Conference in San Diego, CA, this past February. To build on the momentum of budget report language that specified the need for principal development, NASSP launched a hashtag campaign, #PD4principals. Hundreds of NASSP members tweeted pictures of themselves with poster messages reminding policymakers of the value of investing in principal development and directing readers to a link where they could learn about the issue in greater depth.
With the advent of social media, principal involvement in grassroots advocacy has never been easier. Even the smallest start can have a large impact. To get started, follow the NASSP advocacy team—Director of Advocacy Amanda Karhuse @akarhuse and Associate Director of Advocacy David Chodak @dnchodak—to stay abreast of the most important legislative issues that affect your work. On their accounts, you will discover some of the most important hashtags that will allow you to follow cutting-edge issue—among them #ESEA, #edfunding, and #CommonCore.
You have the knowledge, the credibility, and the tools. The benefits of your involvement—for you, your schools, and your professionals—are well within reach!
Bob Farrace is the director of public affairs at NASSP.