Maryellen Butke started RI-CAN – The Rhode Island Campaign for Achievement Now – in 2010 as part of the national 50-CAN education reform advocacy organization.
Now RI-CAN’s executive director, Butke formerly was director of organizational development at The Met School in Providence. Currently she works with Rhode Island is Ready, a grassroots education reform campaign she co-founded.
PBN: Can you tell me a little bit about the RI-CAN blogging fellowship?
BUTKE: RI-CAN’s school reform blogging fellowship is a platform for teachers, principals, students and parents to tell their stories about how education reform policies are playing a role in their classrooms, schools and communities.
Two fellows from Rhode Island will be selected to blog bimonthly for the RI-CAN blog about education over a period of five months. One blogger will be a teacher or principal, and the other will be a student or parent. Each blogger will receive a $1,500 stipend.
PBN: Why blogging? What does the blog platform allow RI-CAN to accomplish that it wouldn’t be able to do elsewhere?
BUTKE: We want to lift up the voices of real people from real communities in our state. The Internet is the fastest and most far-reaching platform we have, and we want to leverage it to share their stories far and wide.
PBN: Why did you make the decision to pay bloggers instead of having them volunteer?
BUTKE: It’s a pretty hefty commitment, and we want to show our appreciation to bloggers for the considerable work they’ll do.
PBN: What do you hope for RI-CAN to accomplish with the blogging initiative?
BUTKE: We want to hear from and engage people on the “front lines” of school reform, people who are living and breathing the education issues we talk about every day. Our fellowship aims to give a face to education reform and make the connection between what happens in the Statehouse and what happens in the classroom by giving the microphone to the people who experience education policy in practice.
PBN: This fellowship is for school reform blogging. Do you think RI-CAN will create more fellowships for other education topics?
BUTKE: RI-CAN is a school reform organization, and this blogging fellowship reflects our mission of great schools for all. We don’t plan on having fellowships on other topics.