By Dina Martin
The use of social media - including Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and even text messaging - has played a key role in election campaigns, most notably in the election of President Barack Obama in 2008. And with the November election around the corner, CTA members have already begun using social media to get the word out about important candidates and issues.
"We are hoping our members will get on the social media bandwagon in our campaign to elect Jerry Brown as governor and Tom Torlakson as superintendent of public instruction and to pass Prop. 24, to close corporate tax loopholes," says CTA Board member Jim Groth. "Right now, they can text 'CTAVOTES' to 69866 to get the latest campaign updates and find out ways to get involved."
Members can also receive targeted e-mails from the campaign by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org, make use of CTA's Facebook page, and obtain helpful materials from several websites, including www.cta.org and www.standupforschools.org.
CTA used some of these social media tools in its Pink Friday campaign in March 2009, and again this year in its March 4 statewide actions. The November election will provide a chance to build on and expand the use of these tools.
CTA members most recently helped the National Education Association lobby Congress to pass the Education Jobs Bill, which will save the jobs of an estimated 161,000 educators nationwide. That campaign was carried off largely through text messaging and e-mails to the U.S. Senate. Supporters tallied 301,000 e-mails and 100,000 calls to Congress. More than 35,000 people became active fans of the Speak Up for Education & Kids campaign on Facebook, and 145,000 new member lobbyists signed up to take action.
In April, teachers in Florida, led by the Florida Education Association, convinced Republican Gov. Charlie Crist to veto legislation passed by the Legislature that would have ended due process and implemented an egregious merit pay system based on student test scores. Along the way, teachers set up 15 separate Facebook pages that drew a membership of 200,000 people. Crist himself said calls to his office ran 5-to-1 against the bill and that he had never faced as much political pressure on any piece of legislation.
"We're seeing social media as powerful new tools in engaging our members - especially our younger members - to become involved in this high-stakes election," says CTA President David A. Sanchez.
CTA knows that although using social media can be a powerful communications tool and a necessary addition to any well-planned campaign, traditional campaign activities are still effective. Members will have a chance to participate in traditional door-to-door activities, postcard-writing parties and the tried-and-true phone banks as well.
"We're going to cover all of our bases," says Sanchez, "to see that our students, teachers and schools come out winners in the November elections."