Saturday, August 14, 2010

Georgia Students for Public Higher Education Summer Conference: Day Two

Day two of the conference brought more high temperatures, good food, and lively discussion. We gathered back at the Georgia Tech campus for breakfast and then went into our first session: the Be the Change meetup in which "be the changers" got a chance to introduce themselves to Georgia Students for Public Higher Education and share ideas for collaboration.

First, we explained how we got started and how we are structured so far. Our education campaign was the idea of youth at the convergence in May (including many GSPHE members), and since then our four committees have communicated via our listserve and conference calls. So we were excited to share report backs from each committee's brainstorming so far:

Art- This committee so far has projects mostly in mid Georgia because its coordinating group, Art as an Agent for Change, is located in Milledgeville. They are working on a literary arts magazine as well as a college/high school mentoring collaboration which will hopefully result in a mixed CD of education related hip hop tracks. We are looking forward to this committee coordinating with others around the state to spread "art for education" projects to other cities.

Action- This committee needs members and ideas! So far we know we will be supporting and participating in the October 7th day of action in which campuses all around GA will be doing some sort of coordinated action for public education. We'd also like to see this team coming up with creative ways to engage people on the issues through community service and local projects.

Legislation- Although GA's legislative session doesn't begin until January, this committee is already doing the groundwork to prepare. We won't know until after the elections are over whether we need to support existing legislation or develop our own, but this team is already researching and forging relationships. We're setting up a conference call soon (details TBA!!) in which a legislator is going to explain the past and present status of legislation related to education and budget re-prioritizing. Everyone is invited to this call, so be on the lookout for details.

Media-In the near future this committee will be creating materials, updating the website, and communicating the campaign's goals and projects to the media, but for now we are focused on creating a foundation of good research. We need the correct stats and info for our materials. To this end, we are hosting a guided research session at the UGA library in Athens on Saturday, September 11 from 2pm to 6pm. We will learn how to access government and budget info and end the day with a collection of solid information to use throughout the year. Anyone interested in education is invited, and travel stipends and free housing are available for those coming from outside Athens.

After these report backs, we took questions and shared ideas about how K-12 and higher ed movements can partner together. We look forward to hearing more ideas and finding ways to link the demonstrations that are happening on both high school and college campuses. The last part of the conference on Sunday was the regional breakout session. Atlanta area folks got together to brainstorm ideas for October 7th and beyond, and the Athens crew got a chance to meet each other and form some strong bonds.

Special thanks: Wesley Foundation for use of their lovely building, Caitie Leary for photos, Food Not Bombs for food, GSPHE organizers for a great weekend!

More info:

To join the list for the "Be the Change" education campaign:

Erica Schoon
American Friends Service Committee

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