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As I reflect on all the activity that has happened in state legislatures, governor’s offices, school boards, and advocacy organizations across the country this year, I’ve started to think about the work that lies ahead for us in 2015. As advocates for students of color and low-income students, how do we best advance the call for equity of educational opportunity for these students in the coming years? How do we monitor the implementation of recently passed reforms — and also build community advocacy, stakeholder engagement, and the political will to ensure these reforms stick?

The downtime between legislative sessions affords us an opportunity to debrief and think “big picture” on important issues like these. And one of the best venues for this is Ed Trust’s 2014 national conference later this year in Baltimore.

Education policy experts will be on hand to discuss how the November elections may impact your work in your districts and states, what is shaping up for next year’s legislative sessions, and how to run successful communications and messaging campaigns. Perhaps most importantly, you’ll have access to a network of education policy leaders, decision-makers, and other like-minded advocates to exchange ideas with, explore new partnerships, and get excited for the work ahead.

At last year’s conference, advocates and educators learned about effective policies and exciting new advocacy strategies for closing achievement gaps. We learned about some of the more uncommon strategies for change in a session titled, “Legislation or Litigation? Using the Courts as a Tool for Education Reform,” led by our friends from the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund and the Intercultural Development Research Association. And in another session, “Increasing College and Career Readiness Through Collective Impact Initiatives,” we learned how schools, districts, and advocates can align efforts and resources to collectively support improvement in student achievement.

So, won’t you join me for this year’s conference November 13-14? Together, we ARE the change we want to see in our schools.

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