As school districts plan to reopen in the fall — whether in person, remote, or a combination of the two — and beyond, one thing is certain: our students deserve a quality education, and that basic right is being denied to too many Black, Brown and low-income students. Our children deserve a school reopening that is just, equitable and safe.
You can view AQE’s recommendations in our Roadmap for a Just Reopening and Just Schools.
School districts are required to submit their regional reopening plans by July 31st. Take these actions to influence your school district’s plan:
Action 1: Email your superintendent
Draft an email to your superintendent or use our sample language to email your superintendent, and copy your school board members on the email. Then, share the email with 5-10 friends and neighbors and encourage them to send an email, too.
I am writing to you because I am concerned about the school reopening planning process. It is important to engage parents, students, educators and community members in creating a plan for our schools. Please read the Roadmap to Just Schools and a Just Reopening created by the Alliance for Quality Education with the input of parents, students and community members.
List all of your concerns, questions. For suggestions, feel free to take a look at the AQE Roadmap.
Action 2: Meet with your superintendent
Organize a group or parents and schedule a meeting with your superintendent to share your priorities for a just reopening.
Look up your local superintendent’s contact information. This information is available on your local school district website.
Schedule a meeting for a group of parents to meet with your superintendent to discuss the reopening of schools. If the meeting is in person, remember to bring a mask and follow social distancing precautions!
Use this guidance to set a meeting agenda: What does a safe reopening mean to you and your schools?
Email a link to the Roadmap to a Just Reopening and Just Schools to the superintendent and any other meeting participants after the meeting as a follow-up to your conversation.
How to schedule a meeting with a superintendent
Action 3: Organize a press conference
Hold a local press conference virtually or in-person to uplift key demands from the Roadmap.
Press conferences are a great way for your event to reach a wider audience and get widespread media coverage. They can help amplify all kinds of events: a round table, town hall, school tour, petition delivery — be creative!
Alert the media A few days before your scheduled event, you will need to email a press advisory with the basic details to the media, so they will know where to be and when. Reporters will decide whether to attend based on your advisory, so make it compelling — but don’t give too much away, either! If your press conference is virtual, don’t forget to include a link to your press conference in the “where” section.
Make calls to reporters. Emails can often be missed, especially in busy newsrooms. After you send your press advisory, make follow-up calls to the reporters and ask them if they will be able to make it. Remember, they’re busy — sell your event to them!
The press release is where you include all the information about what happened — who was there, what they said, why it was important. It should have quotes from your speakers. Bring copies to your press conference to hand out to media, and only email it AFTER your event! If your event is online, share a pdf copy of the press release in the chat with participants.
Make signs and posters. Creative visuals like posters, hats, balloons or banners will make it more likely for your press conference to get TV coverage. Virtual press conferences can include visuals behind speakers, or as a virtual background. Have fun with them!
How to organize a press conference (virtual or in person)
Action 4: Hold a virtual town hall
Organize a regional Education Town Hall to discuss how your local district should reopen. Be sure to invite school board members and the superintendent to the town hall to hear from the community.
Learn the step by step process of organizing a town hall or PTA meeting. If you choose to hold an in-person event, ensure you have proper social distancing and mask guidelines in place!
For a virtual town hall, set up a meeting space on your chosen platform (Zoom, Google Meet) in advance. If it is in-person, you can livestream your event to reach a wider audience. All you need is a phone and an internet connection!
Invite the public: Find people to attend! Promote your event — remember to include the registration link to your virtual event — on social media and around your community. You can edit and download this sample social media flyer to help you in your outreach.
Invite the press: Reach a bigger audience with your event by inviting the press. Follow the step-by-steps above to organize a press conference.
Share background materials: Share a link to the Roadmap with participants in the meeting chat. If your town hall is in person, don’t forget to print copies of the Roadmap in advance to hand out, and bring sign in sheets so you can stay in touch with participants!
Ask participants to take action: Whether your event is virtual or in-person, share a link to this online petition to gather signatures at your event.
How to organize a town hall
Action 5: Write an op-ed
Write an op-ed for your local paper on the parent perspective to a just reopening of our public schools. Use key concepts from the roadmap in your op-ed.
What is an op-ed? What is a letter to the editor? Op-eds and letters to the editor are both submitted and published in newspapers, but there are important differences.
A letter to the editor is normally written in direct response to an article previously published in the paper, and is around 150-200 words.
An op-ed can be on any topic, although the topic should be of interest to the paper’s readership, and share an area of the author’s expertise. Word counts vary by outlet, but they are normally 500-700 words in length.
Before you begin: Research your local media outlets. How you frame your op-ed or letter to the editor depends on the paper you want to submit it to — different papers have different requirements on topics, word counts, authorship and more. Do your research up front, to give yourself the best chance of getting it published.
Put your thoughts on paper: Use these tips and rubrics to learn about the basic structure of an op-ed or letter to the editor, and help organize your ideas.
Submit your piece: Follow the instructions for submission at the outlet you chose. Don’t forget to follow up in a day or two if you don’t hear back!
Share your published work! If your letter or op-ed gets into print, share it widely — the more people who see it, the bigger impact it could have!
Social Media Toolkit
Tap and hold on the images below to save them to your phone:
…Or click here to download these graphics for social media to your computer.
Below are sample messages you can copy and paste to post with your photos or videos from your own social media accounts. If you have Twitter, you can just use the Click to Tweet option and it will copy the text into a window — all you have to do is click “Tweet”!
School districts are required to submit their regional reopening plans by
July 31st. Take action now using our sample language to email your local
superintendent & influence their plan! #Road2Reopen
Schools can’t reopen safely without the full funding of Foundation Aid,
Pre-K & funding for proper safety measures. @NYGovCuomo MUST stop waiting
around for federal funding & instead raise revenues on the ultra rich to
stave off cuts and protect students #Road2Reopen
Recommendations put forth in @AQE_NY’s recent roadmap captures key themes
from 10 virtual community conversations with students, parents, & educators
statewide. In order to reopen schools safely, their voices need to be heard!
#Road2Reopen Read the report here: https://bit.ly/road2reopen
It’s impossible to have just schools without equitable funding. @NYGovCuomo
is against raising revenues even by 1% which would create enough revenue to
fully fund public schools. It’s time for state leaders to prioritize
students over profit #Road2Reopen https://bit.ly/road2reopen
The #Road2Reopen means prioritizing:
- ✊Health, safety, social & emotional well being
- ✊Meeting the needs of ALL students
- ✊Digital equity
- ✊Focus on healing then learning
View the report here: https://bit.ly/road2reopen