My Summary and Thoughts of the Progressive Social Media Summit + (my original speech)

This is by no means meant to be a complete summary of this awesome experience put on by Louisiana Progress, but I thought I would share a few thoughts of mine that came out of this get together. The livestream for this summit was www.louisianaprogress.org/live I was told Louisiana Progress will post a link to the video in a few days. When they do so I will update this post.

Before I start with my summary I wanted to thank all the folks that put this together and especially all of my fans who came out for this event just to see me. I was truly touched and amazed by this, that people from other cities around the state would drive through what for us, in Louisiana, were treacherous and dismal conditions, sometimes stuck in traffic for hours, just to come out and see me. I’m not sure I made my appreciation known at the time, but I was really blown away by your interest in me and your passion for improving our state. Your gestures made my work that much more rewarding and a simple thank you from me seems inadequate. I will promise to continue with my work and I hope to include those of you with the interest and time as well in the future. As was discussed at the summit and I discussed with some of you, I am very interested in hosting guest blogger posts or opinions. As was the case for Bob Mann, one of my most popular posts was a speech I heard and reposted, that someone else wrote. Our words have power.

It was also great to see many of my personal heroes up close and in person. Hopefully I didn’t talk too much (I know I did talk too much, but hopefully not so much as to have been super annoying) as I tend to do when I’m excited. . . If someone had told me 2 years ago I would be sharing a stage (or in this case a fold out table) with these folks I would have told them they were crazier than I pretend to be.

Here are some points I’d like to highlight:

  • Bob Mann suggested turning our blogs over to others for guest spots or posts. I have posted blog posts or Letters to the Editor for Savvy Squash, Pegleg Mickey, Samantha Thibodaux, Lottie Bebee, Debbie Sachs and others from time to time. I also reblog the content of others to cross-pollinate work that I think is important for my readers to see.
  • An idea was raised by me and other folks throughout the day of reaching out to parents and other stakeholders through other types of media such as radio, podcasts and YouTube videos that people could play in their cars on the way to work (not the videos). These forms of contact might be easier for many folks to work into their daily lives and stay abreast of issues important to them.
  • Dayne Sherman discussed some tricks we can use to reach legislators attention more prominently through texts even if you don’t have their phone number. I will review his info when the video is posted and provide a little summary.
  • Zach Koppelin described all the hard work that goes into making something go “viral.” While I choose to provide constant updates rather than fewer widely reaching content, for more significant national content his ideas and methods could prove very valuable in the future.
  • Jennifer Berkshire (Edushyster) mentioned a potentially flammable situation in New Orleans related to the elimination of choice for many parents coupled with more brutal and unforgiving discipline policies than most of us would put up with for our own children. I had already been investigating these issues and will continue to do so until I have enough for a piece or two.
  • We all agreed we need more gatherings like this to communicate with each other and with the public. The idea was mentioned that we should try engaging PTA groups, as well as local civic organizations and parents groups to answer questions. The Louisiana Department of Education does a terrible job of reaching out to parents and individual stakeholders, preferring to use large flashy advertisements and endorsements. Rather than listening to parents concerns they try to wear them down with long presentations and power points, and faux experts and research groups like Stand For Children and CREDO.
  • Most of our local media appears to be wedded to the idea of replacing public education with “anything else” (as the advocate’s editorial board relayed to fellow education blogger Michael Deshotels). As a result they almost unfailingly provide favorable and often fawning coverage to Bobby Jindal and John White’s education policies, ignoring all but the most egregious failings.

 

Here was what I intended to say at the summit. (Canned laughter not included.) I know I drifted off my talking points in a few spots but hopefully I conveyed most of this message. I inserted some comments I thought of after in green.

Good afternoon. I want to thank Louisiana Progress for putting together this little shindig on for us to all get acquainted in person, instead of just behind a computer or phone screen.

My name is Jason France, and I run a local education and politics blog called Crazy Crawfish. I also answer to “Crazy” and “Crawfish” as a result. But there are much worse things to be called, like Bobby Jindal, John White or David Vitter.

I started my blog about 2 years ago after leaving the Louisiana Department of Education, but that was not my intent when I left. I knew I did not want to take part in the destruction of Public Education when I left, but what I did not know is no one would listen to my warnings or investigate the things I told them that were happening to public education, and even public service as a whole!

I contacted numerous reporters, government agencies and politicians over the weeks and months that would follow my departure, but no one responded and no one heeded my calls. To them I was a nobody and I would come to learn that corporations have bought up most of our newspapers and TV news not to inform us but to herd us toward their coffers. [Something I thought of during the conference is that now people ignore me because they know who I am. Not sure if that is an improvement but it is amusingly ironic.]

I realized I would have to do something myself, but for most of my life I have been very shy and introverted. To do something would require me to open myself up to people and expose myself to criticism and scrutiny. What I was contemplating seemed crazy, which is one of the reasons I picked that part of my name.

But I realized the real folks without power are our children who can’t speak up. My own children, other people’s children. To remain silent was no longer an option. [When a bout of shyness starts to overtake me during a public speaking situation I try to picture myself standing in front of my children and that they would have to be the ones to fight for their rights if I did not. I do not use the technique where you picture everyone that you are speaking to is naked.]

So I spoke out, and nothing happened. So I tried again, and again. I went to public meetings, met with other activists in the community and listened to their problems and reported on them. Before long people did start to notice, and other people started contacting me directly to report their problems, for me to report their stories.

Today I’m no longer a nobody. [Well, perhaps just less of a nobody?] None of us are. When we all work together; when we all tell our stories and refuse to be misled or to go with the flow because we are afraid, we all become somebodies together.

That is what those in power fear the most. I am just here to do my part, but all of us working together through our blogs, Facebook pages, twitter feeds and communities can do so much more. I see this as just the beginning and I hope we can all continue to build on this together.

Thank you.

 

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10 thoughts on “My Summary and Thoughts of the Progressive Social Media Summit + (my original speech)

  1. I attended the conference on social media at LSU on Saturday, and I learned a lot from the progressive social bloggers who attended.

    In addition to other Louisiana education reform issues that need addressing, let’s not forget about corporal punishment. Louisiana is one of 19 states that still permits schools to paddle students. Research is clear that corporal punishment is bad for kids. Research has also shown that African American kids get paddled disproportionately in schools.

    I have several doctoral students doing dissertations about corporal punishment in the South, and I would be glad to share their work and mine on this important issue.

    My thanks to all the speakers at the conference on Saturday. Keep up the good work!

    Richard Fossey
    University of Louisiana at Lafayette

    1. Lol. I just sent all my pieces on Corporal Punishment to some folks this morning. This was one of the first issues I tried to work with local civic and non-profits and even talked to legislators and BESE members about this (my first direct contact with them) if you search for Corporal Punishment on my blog you will see my work/research as well as info LDOE collects but refuses to release to the public.

      1. Hi, Jason.

        I looked at your postings on corporal punishment in Louisiana, which contain great citations to research that shows that corporal punishment is harmful to children.

        Louisiana legislators and John White might be interested to know that corporal punishment is on the decline in the South. Florida, North Carolina and South Carolina have reduced corporal punishment drastically based on decisions by local school boards to ban the practice.

        Corporal punishment has been banned in virtually all of the South’s major cities: Dallas, Atlanta, Little Rock, Houston, Miami, etc.

        I am glad you are pushing to get the corporal punishment data from the Louisiana Department of Education because there is some evidence indicating that publicity about corporal punishment in schools contributes to a decline. For example, a child advocacy group in North Carolina published regular reports on the amount of corporal punishment going on in NC schools, and NC school districts rapidly began banning the practice.

        According to a reported issued by the Louisiana Department of Education (which you cited), all the Louisiana districts that have banned corporal punishment are in the southeastern part of the state. Not a single district in northern Louisiana has banned corporal punishment.

        As you pointed out, Catholic schools ban corporal punishment in Louisiana. In fact, every Catholic diocese in the U.S. has banned corporal punishment.

        So here is the big picture. Corporal punishment has been banned in 31 states. Although 19 states still permit it, about 10 have reduced the practice close to zero. Just a handful of states in the South are responsible for the vast majority of all the corporal punishment in the U.S.: Mississippi, Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, and Texas–and almost all the corporal punishment in these states takes place in rural areas and small towns.

        So–you are on the mark to try to get Louisiana’s corporal punishment data because publicity will help persuade Louisiana school boards to ban the practice.

        Keep up the good work! If anyone would like to see some of the published research my graduate students have produced, they may e-mail me at rfossey@louisiana.edu and I will send their articles electronically.

        Richard Fossey
        Paul Burdin Endowed Professor of Education
        University of Louisiana at Lafayette
        Lache pas la patate

  2. CC- Glad u shared ur speech. Writing feels SO MUCH SAFER than SPEAKING. I agree that the time for silent acquiescence (bc isn’t that what it really is?) is over. We need a distillation of message to 2-3 main action points. We need to be doggedly- determined to research and pt out the issues. If we get diverted by the “cult of personality”, what shall we do when the players change? The message is worthy independent of us, yes? We DO need to reach out and educate the parents/public. Thanks again for the humor that helps “the medicine go down”.

    1. To be humorous with such dry topics can be pretty challenging. It actually requires more knowledge and understanding of all sides. That’s why advocates are so wild eyed, rehearsed and humorlessm

    2. I’ve gotten some interest in the crazycrawfish radio hour.  Not sure I have time in mornings to do, but wouldn’t that be fun to listen to on way to work? 🙂   I know I would like listening to someone like me, but maybe cooler and way more awesome.

      Sent via the Samsung Galaxy Note® 3, an AT&T 4G LTE smartphone

      1. I like the idea of “radio”… Perhaps on the NPE feed? Then u wldnt have to update daily, just as “the spirit moves” ( or whatever else u may have consumed earlier that day!). Distill, distill, distill. And leave listeners with something positive in addition to your hilarious take on things!

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