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June 19, 2016 
Vol. 46 No. 6
Cooperatively Speaking
The Latest News from PCPI

Hello! 

Welcome to the mid-month issue of Cooperatively Speaking!  In response to the member engagement survey (see details below), we'll be publishing Cooperatively Speaking twice a month from now on.  

I hope to hear from you about what you'd like to see in this publication, what you think should be continued, and what you'd like to see changed.  

Warmest wishes,

Dianne Rose
Editor, Cooperatively Speaking

PCPI Member Engagement Feedback

After an inspiring presentation by Jane Nolan (Director of Park West) at our Chicago meeting, we enjoyed the company of staff members of Park West Cooperative Nursery School, Lincoln Park Cooperative Nursery School, and Families Together Cooperative Nursery School along with our out-of-town delegates from Indiana, Wisconsin, Maryland, California, Oregon, and British Columbia. With so many people gathered, we found it to be an opportune time to talk about PCPI communications platforms and annual meeting format. 

Participants were urged to give us feedback about how they interact with PCPI, what would draw them to an annual meeting, and where this meeting could take place. These questions are very important because we know that direct member engagement will result in a stronger organization and sustained membership. This is true for each of our schools and councils and it is true of PCPI.

The resulting discussion which continued through the AGM portion of the meeting was inspiring and gave the Board of Directors some very clear actions to pursue. In order to clarify and broaden the opportunity to provide feedback, we also launched an online survey which many of you participated in. Thank you to all for helping us. This information will help guide the decisions we make over the next several months about improving our member engagement practices.

HIGHLIGHTS
Meeting Format and Planning

"What would you like to experience at an annual meeting?"
  • Central destination that considers travel costs, easy transportation on site, and hotel accommodations.
  • Professional development workshops led by area cooperative schools on the weekend. Certificates of participation should be included. Topics of interest were provided by meeting participants.
  • AGM scheduled for a single full-day work session (Friday).

Communications Platforms

In brief, members would like to access news and content at their convenience and they would like to have the choice in how to participate/access PCPI information. Communication, news, alerts, etc. must be shared on multiple platforms because of how our members access these. We must consider all existing platforms when sharing news because each member is unique in the way he or she interacts with PCPI. 
  • Revitalized external (public) website that celebrates schools and councils, more public/free access to PCPI resources, and blog (the blog would feature content that they could share with member families and schools).
    • New website should eliminate members-only, password-protected partition as most members do not access this partition and it communicates a gatekeeping block at a time when the organization seeks to promote the parent cooperative model.
  • Increased social media presence including Facebook (Group and Page) and Twitter.
  • Increased publications via Constant Contact to twice-monthly newsletters.
  • A determination of the effectiveness of relying on the Yahoo email platform is warranted because respondents reported that they do not receive emails via Yahoo.

Membership

It is our goal that with increased member engagement we will in turn increase PCPI membership. Why is membership in PCPI important? Through our lobbying efforts we learned that without a centralized accounting of cooperative schools and councils, State and Federal policy makers cannot and will not shape policy supporting the model. This is the essential truth of "Together We Are Stronger." A robust and present membership directory on our website celebrates and makes that truth visible to everyone - policy makers, journalists, and prospective families.

To illustrate this point, let me share this story. I recently participated in a comment thread in a Facebook group with members mostly based in England. Someone posed the question about the possibility of starting a cooperative model school. Discussion followed that included comments like, "No, not possible" and "Heard that this is something that sometimes happens in the U.S." Then a comment offered a link to Tom Hobson's blog followed by the answer, "Yes... Love Teacher Tom! but pretty sure he's fighting a fairly solitary campaign." The discussion described the cooperative movement as something that is unusual and rare. Abandon all hope, ye who enter here, dragons lurk at every corner!


Tom Hobson  is definitely fighting the good fight, but is it a solitary campaign? Are there only a few of us out there? The answer might surprise you. There are possibly over 10,000 cooperative model schools just in North America. That is hardly solitary! While this is an estimate offered by one of sponsor members,  Avneesh Kumar  of Schoolze, who conducted his own research into the matter, this number could still be quite low. And the number of schools is only the beginning of the story. Our story tells of generations and generations of participating families and educators! There are hundreds of schools looking to celebrate decades of continued operation.  Silver Spring Nursery School  in Maryland is set to celebrate their 75th Anniversary this year, just as so many others have. In the meantime, new schools are founded every year.  New Bern Cooperative Preschool  in North Carolina just opened its doors in Fall, 2015.
Member engagement is such an important part of PCPI's history. In recent years, we have improved so many of our practices, but one thing remains clear - We have to reach as many people as possible to tell our collective story. I want to thank everyone for their feedback. It is my hope to improve all of our platforms in order to better share YOUR stories and to represent the whole story of the inherent successes of the cooperative model.

Lesley Romanoff, 

Share
Cooperatively Speaking with friends!

We'd like to reach as many readers as we can.  PCPI welcomes parents and staff of member schools, councils, and libraries.  There are lots of ways to share Cooperatively Speaking:
  • Forward this message to your school or council network email list
  • Send a list of email addresses for contacts at your school or council to pcpinewsletter@gmail.com to have them added directly to the distribution list
  • Click the Join Our Email List or Forward to a Friend buttons at the end of this newsletter

Coming Soon in Cooperatively Speaking
  • The Katharine Whiteside Taylor Bursary Award

To submit an article or idea, please email pcpinewsletter@gmail.com.  Thanks!

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Parent Cooperative Preschools International (PCPI)