Friday Freakout: Why and How We Engage School Choice Opponents on Twitter
Today’s freakout comes to us from Twitter, where we recently had a chat with an opponent who is fervently using the platform to fight a potential Iowa school choice program—education savings accounts (ESAs).
This exchange represents what many school choice advocates in the states experience on a daily basis, especially regarding the financial effects of programs on public schools and taxpayers.
See for yourself how it went, then check out our key takeaways for school choice advocates who want to jump into the social media fray.
She did not direct message us to speak with someone from our team. But she did continue to tweet at us a couple days later.
@shandanc3 never responded to the last tweet in this thread, though she still engages with us regularly.
It’s unlikely she will ever open up to school choice as one part of a larger plan to best serve families in our public education system, and that’s just fine. We might not always agree, and we won’t always engage, but we welcome and respect everyone’s opinions. Listening makes us better advocates, whether it helps us improve policies or find the best ways to get our message out. From this exchange and many other experiences, we’ve learned that when confronted with facts that refute their claims, opponents of school choice will do one of four things:
- divert/twist/avoid/change the subject
- attack your character
- head for the hills
- change their opinion based on the information you’ve provided (This is rare, but great!)
In this case, @shandanc3 fled our conversation, then reappeared a few days later attacking our character. But hey, that’s just part of the job. As Nobel-winning economist Milton Friedman wrote in the 1960s:
“There is enormous inertia—a tyranny of the status quo—in private and especially governmental arrangements. Only a crisis—actual or perceived—produces real change. When that crisis occurs, the actions that are taken depend on the ideas that are lying around. That, I believe, is our basic function: to develop alternatives to existing policies, to keep them alive and available until the politically impossible becomes politically inevitable.”
As we continue to engage with and learn from our critics, we follow a few simple rules that you might notice are pretty different from the way our opponents come at us:
- Be polite and respectful
- Always back up your claims with research and examples
- Don’t take the emotional bait
- Walk away when the conversation is over
Hopefully, this one example helps more school choice advocates in the trenches as you seek to educate and debate school choice online, in your statehouses and even in your own backyards.
Be prepared! If you would like to see more blog posts like this or additional tips from our team, leave a comment, tweet us @EdChoice, or inquire about our trainings by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.