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More Practicalities of Separating School & State
Originally published inThe Education Liberator, Vol. 2, No. 2, March 1996
For two years, we've worked to prepare the foundation from which to support grass roots volunteer activity. Now we're ready to launch that activity, and this article is the second in a series dealing with the practical factors of communicating our idea of Separation.
Part 3: How the Proclamation Spreads Separation
We have placed the Proclamation at the cutting edge of our efforts for a good reason. The Proclamation makes the Separation movement grow faster in four ways:
1. The Proclamation calls for a decision. This prompts people to take the first step — think. Since our movement is to dispel a falsehood, the bogus belief that children have a right to education at taxpayer expense, getting people to think is the necessary first step.
2. When people sign, they take ownership of the idea, so are more likely to promote it.
3. Because signing is so concrete and simple, the Proclamation allows every individual and chapter to set measurable goals. Self-determined measurable goals energize volunteers to get out and work.
4. Lastly, Proclamation milestones generate publicity. Imagine the headline, "University President Is 1000th Hoosier to Sign Proclamation for Separation of School and State."
Why 25 million signatures?
Victor Hugo coined the expression, "An idea whose time has come." Social scientists estimate that the Hugoian point is reached when two to five percent of the population, the "pioneers," have adopted a new idea. To be prudent, I doubled it to 10 percent — to include plenty of "settlers." (Pioneers ask, "Is it possible?" Settlers ask, "Is it safe?" I am asking you to be a Pioneer.)
How will these signatures drive the change? Let's assume a certain amount of politicking will be necessary to change state constitutions, repeal legislation, and cut taxes to actually end government involvement in education. Most of us recognize that politicians are not really leaders. They are people who try to discern where a parade is headed, then run out in front and holler, "Follow Me!" Our job is to create that parade and make sure the politicians can find it.
We have 1,100 signatures right now. We're large enough to organize a 31 Person March on Washington. No self-respecting politician wants to get in front of such a small parade. But someday we'll have a million signatures, then two million, then 22 million. We will move this idea from phase one (considered absurd) to phase two (considered dangerous to the status quo). Then it will take on a life of its own. Separation organizations will proliferate as "settlers" come aboard. One potential large donor--a Forbes 400 man-- told me he wants to be the last contributor, the hero who puts us over the top.
So how do we get the first million signatures?
Hard work, that's how.*
Part 4: Using "chapters" to build a mass movement
A solo worker can be easily discouraged. All our chapters will have a minimum of two people, the president and the vice president.
A low-commitment volunteer is soon a former volunteer. Our chapter presidents commit to two hundred dollars and two hundred hours per year. A vice president makes a similar commitment of half that size.
A micro-managed volunteer becomes either a blind follower or a former volunteer. Our chapters benefit from the wisdom of one of my early mentors, John Hix, of Fresno: Ask a volunteer what he likes to do, then ask him to do it.
Each chapter decides the target audience with which it will work, and what methods it will use. Here are some sample categories of target audiences and examples:
Residents of Asheville School District for Separation of School & State
Muslims for Separation
Proprietary Montessorians for Separation
Physicians for Separation
Tom Selleck Fans for Separation
What do chapters actually do?
All chapters have the same purpose, to inform Americans of how education can be improved for all, especially the poor, by the full separation of school and state. Each chapter draws upon the resources and interests of the leaders and participants to decide how to inform Americans. Here is a beginning cafeteria selection, from which chapter members may choose what appeals to them:
· speaking, debates and panels at service clubs, colleges, public events
· TV interviews, audio tape distribution, leafletting
· Internet and e-mail outreach, answering questions on the Net
· celebrity focus (get message to a specific high profile person)
· letters to editors, talk show call-in
· booth at home school events, political events, county fairs, hobby events
· write magazine and newsletter articles and newspaper op-eds
· research and build DERIC (Dissident Education Research and Information Clearinghouse)
· publish specialized newsletters, create specialized issue papers
How do chapters get started?
Decide what target audience you want to reach and what methods you would like to start with. Write it down. Send it to me. You'll get invited to join me and several other potential leaders on a one-hour voice teleconference. You'll get your questions answered so you can decide whether to go ahead full speed, medium speed, or come to a full stop.
In addition to recruiting a partner (you might want to be the vice president and recruit a president), and making a financial commitment, there is one more requirement that will help ensure our chapters are led by people we can be confident will reflect the respectfulness that should become our organizational hallmark. Prior to chartering a chapter, both leaders need to submit two letters of recommendation.
How do chapter leaders and participants get support from headquarters?
Those who worked with me in the Advocates for Self-Government know we used the audio teleconference concept to good advantage. I still have full access to the machine (indeed, it resides in my home) that allows up to nine people to converse at once. Our first chapter leaders will meet with me semi-monthly to get their questions answered.
Our first dozen leaders need to be self-starters with high initiative. By watching them, we'll know enough by summer to write a chapter guidelines manual. But first, we need to invent it.
Are you game to join me and some adventuresome people to get this started?
Next month I am handing over this space to Pam Probst, Separationist in Los Angeles. Pam's article will outline 15 gradual steps toward Separation. It will also propose a litmus test by which a person can evaluate any proposed incremental step and decide if it is an honest step toward Separation, or a decoy reform that sets us backward.
This article is copyrighted by the Alliance for the Separation of School & State. Permission is granted to freely distribute this article as long as this copyright notice is included in its entirety.
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