We are just like you--parents with busy jobs and busy lives who still find time to help out, pitch in and stand up for what we believe in. In addition to our other responsibilities, we take turns writing press releases, running email campaigns, finding strategic partners, and touching base with our legislators and our supporters.
Educate Our State was founded by seven moms who all have/had kids in the California K-12 public education system. In late 2009, a group of six moms of elementary-age children in San Francisco were frustrated by the budget crisis that their school was facing. Recognizing that this problem was faced by schools across the state, the “Sherman Six” were inspired by a teacher to hold a Town Hall. Filling an auditorium with more than 1,000 concerned parents, political groups and non-profit organizations, they listened to and exchanged ideas with a distinguished panel that included State Senators, Assemblymen, the Mayor of San Francisco, San Francisco’s Superintendent of Schools and heads of the local Board of Supervisors and the San Francisco board of education. The Town Hall exposed the urgent need for a larger, statewide effort to harness the power of parents and direct energy at the state-centered sources of the problem.
What started as a simple Town Hall turned into a parent movement, connecting localized groups of frustrated parents into one, larger organization with the goal of transforming public education funding at the state level. Parents from across the state joined the movement. In Los Angeles, Teri Levy was spreading the message “Say No to Cuts” with a very successful public education awareness effort using a viral video, "Hot For Teachers" starring Megan Fox and Brian Austin Green, which was seen by over a million people in just a few days.
In Redwood City, Susie Peyton was working with the Redwood City Education Foundation on community education outreach on the state’s education budget. In Sacramento, Catherine Goddard had formed Support California Kids, which had initiated a letter-writing campaign regarding education funding mandates. These three moms joined forces with Crystal Brown, Annie Bauccio Moore, Cece Kaufman, and Linda Shaffer, four of the original “Sherman Six,” to found Educate Our State in August 2010.
It was soon apparent that more funding for education, in itself, was not the only issue. Other fundamental changes to education were necessary to transform the K-12 education system into something that really worked for kids. Educate Our State soon formed a comprehensive but simple platform. Initially, we spread the word of our movement through house parties and town hall meetings.
In 2011, we launched the “Let Us Vote” campaign to give voters the opportunity to extend expiring, temporary taxes to support education, generating 60,000 letters to legislators in every district in the state. This was followed by the “Wake Up California” campaign, a one-day event across the state to spread the word about how the cuts at school sites were being driven by the reduction in education funding by the state. “Camp Educate” followed in the fall, where we gathered parent leaders from around the state for training in engagement organizing skills with New Organizing Institute.
In a short time, Educate Our State has expanded to 40,000 supporters, and the movement continues to grow every day.