Giving Compass' Take:

· Writing for Education Dive, Naaz Modan provides a run-down of this year's ISTE conference and the key takeaways for improving advocacy for district needs.

· How can district advocates use these tips to improve their efforts and bring in more support? 

· Read about the importance of incorporating student voice into education policymaking.

Decisions made on Capitol Hill can seem far removed from school or district leaders' daily responsibilities. However, there are ways in which educators can advocate for their school- and district-level needs.

Two sessions during this year’s ISTE conference posed the question of how can school leaders maximize and utilize their federal funding to fulfill ed tech needs, which provided the following takeaways.

Create a master plan
Education technology specialist Rick Gaisford from the Utah State Board of Education said that before approaching policymakers and beginning advocacy work, it is critical for educators and leaders to build a framework or “master plan” on ed tech use in schools with key focus areas.

“It is important for lawmakers to see capacity before funding something,” Gaisford said in the session.

Get a seat at the table
In order to understand where the money is available and influence policymakers’ agendas, it is important to first get a seat at the table and take part in meaningful conversations.

Share stories centered on ed tech
Once you have built connections, be “proactive rather than reactive” in your advocacy. Janice Mak, a member of Arizona’s State Board of Education, said constantly seek impact, which could be as simple as writing letters about what is important to your school district or partnering with organizations that have a “powerful presence.”

“It could be as simple as emailing someone about what you’re working on,” Whiteboard Advisors’ Evo Popoff said.

The minute educators stop talking about the effectiveness of ESSA funds, the potentially hefty financial support will dry up, Bernstein said. “Those funds are there, and we need to talk about them in a way that shows how ed tech can support the remaining goals of ESSA.”

Read the full article about improving advocacy for district needs by Naaz Modan at Education Dive.