As discussed on the GroundFloor Media blog on Sept. 29, the nationwide debate on education reform is once again poised to reach a fever pitch. Last week, the documentary movie, “Waiting for Superman,” was released nationwide, and today, controversial school superintendent, Michelle Rhee, announced her resignation in Washington, D.C.
However, the fervor has been brewing for weeks, if not months and years. Last month, The New York Times Magazine focused entirely on issues related to education and technology, challenging conventional beliefs about the way students learn. And in its November issue, Vanity Fair recognizes Wendy Kopp, founder and chief executive officer of Teach for America for 20 years of classroom innovation and leadership – education reform is making it big.
But wasn’t that the case in 1989 when the movie “Lean On Me” captured Morgan Freeman as hard-driving, New Jersey school principal, Joe Clark, introducing him and the plight of our public schools to millions of Americans? The question I keep asking is, “What makes a movement and when will we finally listen enough to take lasting action?”
At last night’s screening of “Waiting for Superman,” acclaimed director and producer, Davis Guggenheim of “The Inconvenient Truth,” opened the movie with brief remarks, encouraging Coloradans to take action because “Colorado Kids Can’t Wait.” The Colorado Children’s Campaign is a driving force behind the “Colorado Kids Can’t Wait” campaign, and it had the vision and foresight to schedule Guggenheim as the keynote speaker for its 25th anniversary luncheon today.
Guggenheim’s visit to Colorado, combined with statewide screenings of the movie, are likely to do more to increase public awareness about the state of Colorado schools than all the publicly-funded initiatives of the past several years. I should know, I worked for Colorado Commission on Higher Education five years ago and since then, the statistics have not changed – nearly 25 percent of Colorado kids fail to graduate from high school, and an even greater percentage never go on to college.
So, how do we move the needle? For all of Kopp’s efforts and achievements, why is she just now making it in the “Hall of Fame” column of Vanity Fair, when Lindsay Lohan only had to skip bail to make the cover?
Creating news is tricky and encouraging action is even more difficult.
Whether promoting new products, or issues near and dear to our hearts, we need to convey passion and inspire commitment – and the Colorado Children’s Campaign is doing just that this week. The campaign has undertaken a multi-pronged approach that includes media relations, event planning, social media and community outreach in a personally engaging way. They have joined forces with like-minded partners, because the collective is louder than one person or group. They have backed up an alarming message with inspirational speakers and statistics – both local and national – putting a face on the campaign and scheduling their efforts at a time when the state and the nation can’t help but notice.
Executing a campaign of this scale and reach takes time and the team over at the Colorado Children’s Campaign has been working for nearly a year to make the momentum of the past week possible. This approach is instructive as we work with our clients to create news campaigns and make a lasting impression.
Without imploring anyone to agree or disagree with the content – go see the movie! We’re eager to hear how it inspires you. Comment below and share your thoughts with us.
~ Kimmie Greene