In order for education advocates to have a greater systemic impact on education policies, we need to take advantage of opportunities for effective political engagement. As such, I wanted to capitalize on the increased energy of young professionals to get involved during this past hyper-political cycle.
Post-election, the Jacksonville Young Democrats decided to shift into a more robust action-oriented group. The organization has held two roundtable discussions after the election to learn about issues facing the Jacksonville community in order to help with an advocacy initiative, program development, or anything that will make significant changes within the community in a non-partisan way. The second roundtable focused on education reform in Jacksonville and had speakers from Teach for America, NE FL United Way, City Year and the Jacksonville Public Education Fund.
The speakers from the organizations all spoke on the need to integrate the education reform system so that we can work toward collective impact. They also identified weaknesses in the education system such as teacher training and teacher retention and strengths including the ability to make systemic change because of consolidation and being able to affect policy on a large scale.
The biggest takeaway of the evening was the desire of young professionals to be involved in improving the Duval County school system. Some of them were there because they are or were teachers in Duval County. Others were there because they have children and are interested in their future. Some were former students of DCPS and others were there because of the inherent importance of quality education. Regardless of background, the Jacksonville community is coming together to support high quality public schools and a more successful city.
There are many ways to get involved and help improve our public schools:
Attend School Board meetings. You can check the DCPS schedule here.
Become involved in your neighborhood School Advisory Board or the District Advisory Board.
Celebrate great teachers and show your appreciation for all they do by attending the 26th Annual Florida Blue Teacher of the Year EDDY Awards gala at the Hyatt Regency.
Explore ways to support teacher fellows coming in through TFA and City Year.
Jacksonville Public Education Fund welcomes the opportunity to have passionate young professionals plug into the work all of the education organizations are doing and will be glad to play a role in connecting young professionals to opportunities to improve their local schools and the larger education system in Jacksonville.