A brief description of PRIDE and its goals
Since 1994, NJEA has conducted the PRIDE in Public Education campaign, a statewide effort to share the successes of public education with all New Jerseyans and build strong community support for and involvement in our public schools.
As part of its campaign, NJEA provides grants to its local/county affiliates for projects that bring the public schools out into the community and the community into the public schools. Each year there are hundreds of local PRIDE projects conducted by NJEA members.
Each proposal should:
• Involve at least one segment of the community.
• Encourage member participation.
• Provide recognition for the association.
• Have an organizing component and a method to collect information.
• Include year-round activities.
• Request appropriate funding level.
All projects should meet one or more of the following PRIDE goals:
1. Pass school budgets and elect pro-education school board members.
2. Improve the outcome of collective bargaining by making maintenance and improvement of quality schools the
first school board priority rather than the control of the tax rate.
3. Increase positive legislative initiatives concerning public schools and minimize negative proposals.
4. Create an enlarged cadre of leaders and members actively involved in continuing a program of community
There are several types of PRIDE projects designed to accomplish the organizing component of the PRIDE program.
TYPE A: Community Organizing Projects:
These projects involve one association working within the local community/county to build strong, long-term relationships between the association and the community, to not only enhance public education and its image but also to develop strong support within the community for members and their association. To be effective, activities need to involve members with segments of the community.
Type A projects take many forms that range from relatively straightforward activities—such as sponsoring children’s athletic teams in the community or hosting refreshments and giveaways at back to school nights and parent conferences—to large scale events such as literacy celebrations. For example, in April 2012 the Berkeley Township Education Association (BTEA) is planning the “Night of 3 Rs: Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic.” At this event, NJEA members will support literacy in their schools by promoting “battle of the books” and “math madness” competitions. Refreshments will be served and magnets and bookmarks will be distributed with the BTEA name and logo. What’s more, a book fair will be on site that will include a visit from a local author. Seven hundred members of the community are expected to attend, and the BTEA will receive recognition in the local newspaper for hosting the event.
TYPE B: School Budget Projects:
Successful campaigns rely on the time-tested practice of focusing on the votes of supporters, not opponents. The suggested activities center on what is commonly called “The ground game”—organize supporters, provide them with tools to engage other supporters, and remind those supporters to vote. Local leaders should consider utilizing phone banks, targeted mail/fliers, coffee
klatches, and other targeted get out the vote (GOTV) events and activities. For example, the Pennsauken Education Association (PEA) hosts an annual “Senior Citizen Prom” in early April—a few weeks before the school budget election. Three hundred members of Pennsauken’s senior citizen community are treated to a catered luncheon and live music courtesy of a teacher-led band. The seniors receive corsages, prom pictures, and gifts of appreciation. Student artwork is displayed via an art show, and the high school’s clubs are on hand to serve meals to the seniors. The 50+ PEA members in attendance distribute pass-the-budget information, voter registration forms, and absentee ballots as they discuss budgetary information with the participants in this fun, low-pressure atmosphere. A major Philadelphia television station regularly covers the event for its 11 o’clock news program. In 2011, using the prom and other approved PRIDE school budget projects, the PEA successfully passed its school budget.
In addition to the targeted GOTV community organizing efforts, there should be an internal organizing component to make sure that members are registered and vote.
Type C: For County Associations:
Type C projects are large scale, media-intensive events that involve numerous locals in a county. Type C projects must be developed in coordination with NJEA Communications. For example, in March 2012 the Middlesex County Education Association (MCEA) will host its annual “PRIDE in Public Education Fair.” The event is usually held in a shopping mall, and parents of Middlesex County students and their families are invited to participate along with BOE and PTO members, county businesses, civic organizations, local business organizations, representatives of the police and fire departments, altruistic organizations, and elected officials. Performances will be staged by students who attend schools within the county and will include cheerleaders, choirs, poets, costumed school mascots, and marching bands. This year, performances will focus upon the theme of promoting positivity and self awareness through safety, good health, and the joy of reading. Face painting, balloon animals, origami demonstrations, and a DJ help provide entertainment. A professional photographer and videographer are on hand as well as the local media. The MCEA’s 16,000 members are invited to attend in order to promote the MCEA’s positive image as an organization that maintains the existence of quality public schools.
Type P: Families and Schools Together Work for Children (FAST):
These projects are for targeted associations identified by NJEA that involve FAST (Families and Schools Together Work for Children) organizing activities/events. By providing opportunities for long-term engagement with families and schools together, community organizing efforts focus on building sustained relationships. For example, members of four Trenton locals (Trenton Education Association [TEA], Trenton Paraprofessional Association [TPA], Trenton Educational Secretaries Association [TESA], and the Business and Technical Association [B & T]) volunteer to forge partnerships with families and the community through a series of programs geared towards helping the 25,000 students they service. Activities such as skills trainings, wellness fairs, grandparents’ days, literacy/family nights, book fairs, and nutrition workshops as well as a parent summit all work together in a coordinated effort to keep the community informed of the best practices to fostering student success.
Training for leaders:
Numerous PRIDE training opportunities are offered by NJEA staff throughout the year, including county-wide workshops, workshops for regional office staff, statewide workshops at leadership conferences, etc.