The American Federation for Children, the nation’s voice for educational choice, is seeking a senior communications team member to help expand K-12 educational opportunities for families across the United States.
AFC is a non-partisan organization that works across the country to elect state level candidates, pass legislation, and implement laws to help children access the schools of their parents’ choice.
The ideal candidate is a strong writer, detail oriented, willing to take on challenges, has press and campaign and/or public relations experience, and most of all: has a passion for helping all children have an equal opportunity to receive an education that best suits their needs.
The Deputy Communications Director will work extensively with the National Communications Director, along with AFC staff and education reform partners in D.C. and the states, to expand K-12 educational choice across the country.
The position is based in Washington, D.C.
– Assist in developing strategic earned media campaigns for print, online, TV, and radio to defend and promote educational choice, and build AFC’s brand
– Manage the flow of communications department activities and projects to ensure timelines and deadlines are being met
– Develop and manage databases for school choice success stories, reporter and producer lists, media surrogates, and press coverage
– Write and/or edit AFC publications such as the: Yearbook, Legislative Impact Report, Election Impact Report, and Report Card
– Execute communications portion of AFC events such as the AFC National Policy Summit, AFC involvement in National School Choice Week, Capitol Hill briefings and state events
– Converse with members of the news media both nationally and in specific states
– Assist with the development of AFC videos and graphics
– Assist with writing and editing policy papers, blogs, op-eds, newsletters, and press releases
– Gain mastery of technology platforms such as: Nationbuilder, Mailchimp, Cision, Airtable, WordPress, Critical Mention, Slack, Dropbox, and Google Drive
– Minimum five years of experience; previous experience with K-12 policy issues, working on a campaign communications/media team, for a policymaker or policy organization is a preferred.
– Commensurate with experience and applicant skill set
School choice had a rock star year! From the nomination and confirmation of Betsy DeVos, one of the country’s most outspoken advocates of school choice, as the Secretary of Education to the addition and expansion of several school choice programs across the country – 2017 was a monumental year for families and their right to choose their child’s educational experience. The best part about the success of school choice? The families and students whose lives have changed for the better because they now have access to schools, programs, and resources that they’ve decided works best for their needs.
So, without further ado, here’s our best of school choice 2017!
Our Voices for Choice Tell Their Stories on Capitol Hill (twice!)
School choice alumni, now named Voices of Choice, came from states across the country to share their personal stories of the impact choice has had and continues to have on their lives. From elementary to college students, each were excited to tell their stories to legislators. Be sure to read a few of them at the links below.
On August 31st, Governor Bruce Rauner signed into law a bill which created a tax credit scholarship program and established charter funding equity, after the House and Senate passed the legislation on a bipartisan basis earlier in the week. With this act, Illinois became the 26th state with private school choice and now has the 52nd private school choice program in the country.
A year after Martin Luther King III led a massive march and rally in Tallahassee with 10,000 people, urging the Florida teachers’ union to drop its lawsuit, which would have evicted more than 98,000 low-income and working-class children from the private schools their parents chose for them, the Florida Supreme Court dismissed the suit.
In June, the North Carolina General Assembly approved their general appropriations bill that would expand educational opportunities to more North Carolina families, including funding for the creation of a new Education Savings Account Program – the sixth program of its kind in the nation. The new $3 million program will take effect in the 2018-2019 school year and will provide up to $9,000 a year to offset the cost of educational expenses.
Families and students who were in need and in search of better educational opportunities won when Betsy DeVos, former AFC chairman, was confirmed as Secretary of Education. With more than 30 years advocating on behalf of families, she was a bold pick to lead the Department of Education. Secretary DeVos has long believed that innovation and choice will improve educational outcomes and create educational opportunity for every child. A passionate believer in every parent’s right to choose the best educational environment for their child, Secretary DeVos pledged to focus our nation’s education system on students and their needs.
A Gallup poll released in April made a not-so-secret secret, even more not-so-secret: lots of people really like and support the idea of school choice! These results will help pave the way for more states to enact and expand school choice programs for their residents.
In April, the new and improved www.FederationforChildren.org, went live. With features including an interactive map that lets users quickly find school choice programs across the country, success stories that spotlight the necessity for choice, and an overview of the various types of choice programs available, families now have a plethora of information right at their fingertips making choice even more accessible.
The Fashion Institute of New Orleans’ 11th Annual Passion for Fashion show, which has received national recognition, gives students the opportunity to produce a fashion show using their own designs. This year’s show featured the AFC “Freedom” Teen Line. Models donned t-shirts and displayed signage with messages of freedom, choice and academic achievement.
In May, more than 1,500 school choice supporters rallied at the Ohio Statehouse to encourage the state’s elected leaders to support empowering Ohio families and students with educational options. Their efforts paid off – the Cleveland Scholarship Program received increased funding of nearly 10% per child for all students participating in the program!
Hosted by School Choice Congressional Caucus co-founders Rep. Luke Messer and Sen. Tim Scott, Rep. Messer emceed the event featuring speeches from members of Congress and over 200 students who participate in the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program or attend a public charter school in the District. While it was a time to celebrate the success of school choice, particularly in the District, it was also an opportunity to advocate for the reauthorization of the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program. In May, Congress completed work on the Fiscal Year 2017 budget bill, which reauthorized the program for three years.
The Indianapolis Urban League (IUL) recently hosted its third annual School Excellence Awards Luncheon where they honored nine Marion County schools for achieving educational excellence while serving diverse groups of students. The nine schools recognized included traditional public, IPS innovation network, charter and private schools.
The event featured journalist and television host Roland Martin and drew well over 100 attendees. Mr. Martin gave a rousing speech about both his and his family’s educational experiences including his thoughts on why families need access to diverse educational choices. Giving an urgent call to action, he invited the audience to get involved in ensuring that children in Indianapolis have access to all educational options. As a fellow member of the audience, I was very inspired by the event and Mr. Martin’s speech. The opportunity to highlight great schools that are serving their students well and hear the perspective of a leading journalist on educational options made for a successful event.
AFC is glad to have a partner in the Indianapolis Urban League. It’s great to come together with a local organization who is doing such important work to improve lives in the Indianapolis community and to celebrate and promote quality educational options. Indianapolis is both unique and lucky to have a rich and diverse landscape of schools across sectors. While more can be done to improve access to those schools and to increase the number and types of options available, we have a lot to celebrate in our city. We are proud to work with groups like the IUL and the Institute for Quality Education to ensure that both community leaders and Indianapolis families are familiar with all available options and know how to navigate the unique Indianapolis landscape. A special thanks goes out to IUL President and CEO Tony Mason and Director of Housing and Education Mark Russell, and the whole Urban League team for making the event possible.
As a resident of Louisiana, a state in the process of redefining what education looks like for its precious children, I find myself extremely hopeful.
As a member of the education choice community, I am hopeful because we have started listening and, because of it, are redefining our mission. We have learned that it is not our job to dictate to parents what we think they need. But, instead, our responsibility is to make sure the table is set before them with as many high-quality options as possible. We have learned that parents can make great choices with the right information and that an empowered community is an engaged community.
We have also begun to understand that the “system” as some like to refer to it, is the choice for some families, and that it is actually giving some children what they need to achieve their life’s goals. We are beginning to listen to, place value in, and partner with schools that are getting it right, even when they don’t fit into our mold. We are truly becoming team players.
I am hopeful for myself because I can now rest well at night knowing that I am finally getting it right. I am learning to truly listen to what parents express as important to them and walk with them along their journey with the same end goal in mind. I want their babies to be successful, no matter what route their education takes. I want them to know that I genuinely care about them and their families.
“Nobody cares how much you know, until they know how much you care.” Theodore Roosevelt
As an adult, I have found it necessary to carve out time to reflect. I find that thinking deeply and carefully about things helps me better understand the world around me. More importantly, it helps me see what I can do to make things better.
I had the fortunate experience to have an English teacher as a mother. She taught my siblings and me to love books. She showed us that we could travel through time. We could see all of the beauties of the world. We were able to read about all of the heroes that paved the way for us to do great things. Because of the great educator I had at home, I learned to explore the world. I became fascinated with the pyramids. I looked at the various wonders of the world and was in awe that the same water that separates us also allows us to come together.
As a child, I was amazed that the earth rotated on an axis at 1,000 miles per hour but I never felt the movement. I learned that the temperature of the sun can reach more than 27-million degrees and yet I could stand outside and not burn. Because of the educator at home, I read about the many contributions of historical figures like Catherine the Great, Gandhi, Mandela, and Martin Luther King, Jr. My mother told me I could do anything and because of the books I read, I believed her.
As an adult, my dreams and aspirations have become more tempered. I no longer want to save Gotham City. The things that awe me are more present and practical. I dream of helping children. I dream about what the world would look like if every child were given the foundation that I had. I excelled academically but often wonder what would have happened if I did not have an educator at home.
The things that awe me now are the young people I work with every day. They excel in spite of, not because of. They deal with unimaginable home situations that span from drug abuse to mental and physical abuse. I have talked to students that have slept on the floor in front of the door to keep their parent from leaving to score drugs. Many live with other family members. They leave deplorable homes to go to deplorable schools.
These realities have focused my dreams. I work diligently every day to ensure that families are able to give their child a quality education. For me, this starts with empowering them with the opportunity to choose where their child is educated. It starts with school choice. When I think about the school systems across the country, I understand that systems are not as important as young people. The educator gave me the tools I needed to dream and make a difference. Now, I work to make sure that all young people dream and have the opportunity to experience the confidence and reality of their dreams.
In every neighborhood in America, there are “hidden figures”, children who posses special gifts and talents. Unfortunately, many of these Gifted and Talented students are not identified in poor urban or rural areas in part because their school districts no longer provide funding for gifted and talented programs. Imagine the frustration and boredom felt by a student who possesses a gift for Math but has already burned through every Math class their rural district has to offer by their sophomore year. Imagine the wasted potential of a student truly gifted in music at an urban school that no longer offers anything more than the basics.
Here’s how a new school choice reform will make a big difference:
This week, legislators from both parties in Wisconsin joined together to propose that poor students across the state be given the chance to receive a $1,000 Education Savings Account each year to purchase the classes or lessons they need to develop the full potential of their academic gift. The authors of this innovative proposal include rural Republicans and urban Democrats, and both supporters and opponents of school choice. With this school choice legislation, Gifted and Talented students who qualify for Free and Reduced Price Lunch would be eligible for this new investment in their future regardless of whether they are attending a traditional public school, an independent charter or a private school participating in one of Wisconsin’s four voucher programs.
We often hear of “no child left behind”, but this type of school choice reform would allow for the best and brightest to leap ahead.
Students could be deemed Gifted and Talented by scoring in the top 5% of any test mandated by the state from 3rd grade Reading exams, to the ACT. Because these state and national tests tend to focus only on language, Math, Science and Social Studies, school leaders could also designate students as Gifted and Talented in music, the arts, leadership and other academic areas. These Gifted and Talented Students could use the money in their account to pay for classes that develop their gifts from other schools, colleges, online providers or private instructors approved by the Department of Public Instruction.
So, that rural sophomore who has advanced through every Math class their high school offers could take Trigonometry or advanced Calculus at a nearby college, or the public school district next door. The Milwaukee student gifted in music might be able take classes to refine their talent at the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music or from members of the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra. And if they don’t use all of the funds in their Education Savings Account in a particular year, they can roll over the unused funds into the next academic year.
Most of the focus in education reform today is appropriately on students who are struggling to learn the basics. Our investment in these students is crucial to their success in life and critical to our nation’s success as well. We need them to possess the knowledge and the skills required for “the pursuit of happiness”. At the same time, we also need to fully develop the potential of our most gifted and talented children in every neighborhood where they live. For it is upon these “hidden figures” that our nation will depend as we reach for the stars.