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Connecticut School District Teaches Advocacy Skills

It's easy to feel powerless when the early-childhood education programs you've relied upon are slashed, but the folks at the Parent Leadership Training Institute in Middletown, Conn., understand that knowledge is power.

Their institute—an outreach of the Middletown School District—trains families to take an active role in government.

The organization "teaches respect, validation, belief that when the tools of democracy are understood, the public will engage actively in civic life," according to the website.

And while many school districts have basic outreach and advocacy groups, Middletown's seems rather extensive.

The institute offers a bevy of classes on how to make change happen, one individual at a time: There's a three-part training session that includes a retreat, a 10-week class on parent leadership, and a 10-week study of politics, policy and media that culminates with a project to practice newly learned lobbying skills.

I'd love to know more about these types of groups around the nation and what effect they've had on state and federal legislation. Do you participate in one or know of an effort that's been transformative on the topic of early-childhood education?

To learn more about the Parent Leadership Training Institute model, see: www.middletownschools.org.

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