In times of division, strategic communication matters

By Ashley Burns and Manny Rivera
February 2022
As advocacy communications professionals who work with educators, one truth is constant in our current conversations with superintendents, principals, teachers, parents, and youth advocates: Education conversations today are riddled with more land mines than ever before. Only 18 months ago, our most common communications challenge was helping education leaders and policymakers understand the concept and value of systemic change. Today, simply mentioning race or inequity can become kindling in a flammable context. It may ignite a parent group, unravel a school board meeting, or spark a community protest. Words have power. Fortunately, this means that intentional messaging –– coupled with curiosity and a willingness to learn –– has the power to change hearts and minds for the benefit of students. So what messages are effective

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Echelon Insights (2021). Views on race-related issues in K-12 education. PIE Network.

Gonzales, D., López, F., & Wiener, R. (2021). United we learn: Honoring America’s racial and ethnic diversity in education. Aspen Institute.

Hammond, Z. (2014). Culturally responsive teaching and the brain. Corwin.

Yoder, N., Atwell, M.N., Godek, D., Dusenbury, L., Bridgeland, J.M., & Weissberg, R. (2020, June). Preparing youth for the workforce of tomorrow: Cultivating the social and emotional skills employers demand. Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning.

Ashley Burns ( is a principal at RALLY.

Manny Rivera ( is a principal at RALLY.

The Learning Professional

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