Recently, I have been invited to speak at a number of community meetings largely in response to the current organic rising up of parents who are awakening to what has been going on in the education of our children. As I have said often, COVID has become a Great Revealer for us. And one of the biggest results, particularly from the shelter-in-place experience is what we experienced in 2020. By necessity, so many families became homeschool families. For the first time in a long time, parents found themselves having a front-row seat to what was (and is) happening in their child’s classroom experience.
With the awakening that is happening, school boards and other leaders find themselves being confronted by community members who are understandably frustrated. And too often, the most egregious interactions are the stories that get the most attention. I certainly share many of those frustrations and have attempted to share my experiences as an elected leader with the emerging armchair advocates who are hoping to influence decision-makers like me.
I was invited to speak during the Vision Night event for the Indiana Parents for Kids last week. The room had well over one hundred people who are wanting to be more engaged on the pertinent issues in their community. (You can watch my speech here.)
The tendency—born out of frustration—has been to employ too often what one might term, “the pitchforks and torches” strategy of engagement. Instead, I believe that it is critical that we remember the importance of what I call, “Golden Rule diplomacy.” If we each hope to influence the people around us—especially the elected officials and other public figures—we must treat them the way we would want to be treated. Only then will we be able to collaboratively solve the problems that we face in our communities.