Keeping up on all the issues facing our public schools can be a daunting task. Everyday there seems to be another story in the news about potential changes in school budgets, curriculum, or testing standards and keeping up to date on all this information is difficult. Thankfully, there are a number of grassroots organizations that do a great job of both providing clear information about these and other important issues, while serving as a platform for real change.
Some of these grassroots organizations, such as the Chalkboard Project, are local nonprofit groups created by educators, students, parents and concerned citizens who are interested in both providing information to the community, and having an impact on policy. Some of these organizations, like Stand for Children, are active in multiple states and focus on budget choices and legislation in an attempt to strengthen education.
One of the coolest organizations I found was the Open Books Project. The Open Books Project was created by the Chalkboard Project. As they say on their website, the Open Books Project “includes all kinds of information about K-12 school districts, streamlined together so that Oregonians can get the facts they need to make smart decisions about their schools.” Information including financial data, achievement data, and community data is made available to anyone interested in keeping up to speed on the issues facing schools.
Another great organization I like is Oregon Save Our Schools. As they state in he Who We Are portion of their website, Oregon Save Our Schools participants are “a group of committed community members that want to provide a quality and equitable education for all students in the state of Oregon.” They work towards this goal in part by providing and discussing information critical to school improvement, while also organizing meetings, events and rallies in an attempt to impact policy. One of the issues that OSOS is currently addressing is the costs involved with high stakes standardized testing. When you visit the OSOS website, you can link to their facebook page which contains a ton of information about testing issues. OSOS also provides all of the information you need to get personally involved including who to contact in the state legislature so that your voice can be heard. They also provide the location and times of all the meetings about this issue, so if you choose to be involved, you’ll know where to go.
If you are concerned about issues facing our school system, then these and other grassroots organizations are a great place to gather information and for active participation. Everyone concerned about local school issues will find something of value by checking out these organizations. For those of us who are involved with mentoring through the 421 Capstone who wish to stay involved after this term, these grassroots organizations are key.
Additional recommended links: http://www.familyforwardoregon.org