Call for Action: Healthy Schools & NCLB

May 17, 2007

How does No Child Left Behind affect healthy schools? How can a conference call be interesting and concise?

Communities for Quality Education, in partnership with Healthy Schools Campaign and the Illinois Education Association, connected over a hundred education advocates with Rep. Phil Hare on Monday to discuss education and the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) law in a virtual town hall telephone forum.

This was a great opportunity to hear from and speak to one of our leaders who is making important education decisions in Washington.

When we think of NCLB, we don’t always immediately think of healthy schools issues – but the two are linked very closely. Today, NCLB affects nearly every aspect of the school experience  – from funding to recess to food education – and we absolutely need to help our legislators understand this connection.

And to be honest, when I think of telephone forums, I don’t always immediately think of organized, engaging discussions – but this call changed my mind. The “virtual town hall” was substantive, concise, well-organized, and a great opportunity to bring healthy schools issues to the NCLB agenda.

We’re hosting another of these calls – this time with Rep. Peter Roskam – this Mon., May 21 from 7:30-8:00 p.m. Click here to learn more or sign up for the call.

Why is this event so deserving of our time and attention?

Substance: HSC and many individual callers were able to speak with Rep. Hare about the importance of physical education, physical activity, nutrition and better facilities in achieving academic success. We also were able to introduce Rep. Hare to the importance of including a “learning environment index” in NCLB to make sure schools have the resources to make improvements in their facilities.

Technology: The technology that connects hundreds of individuals on telephone forums is, in a word, great. It’s easy, it includes numerous interactive polls where individuals vote with their keypads so we know what others are thinking, and it’s an effective way to interact with people who are often far away. Callers can ask questions through a moderator, and background noise is automatically muted so we didn’t all listen to each other’s colleagues chatting in the background.

Organization: This call was moderated by Communities for Quality Education and they did a great job of maintaining the flow of the call. This was no “go through all your old emails” type of conference call:  it was participatory, engaging, and very interesting.

Rep. Hare was articulate and well-versed in the subject of No Child Left Behind. I was impressed not only by his knowledge of the issues but also by his willingness to listen, engage, and bring community concerns to the discussion.

I hope others will join us when we host our second call with Rep. Roskam on May 21 at 7:30 pm Central Time.

Visit www.call4action.net to sign up now.