Rebecca Levey Selected as New York Delegate for Parenting Magazine’s Mom Congress
Well known for her print and online writing, Levey also serves as co-president of her daughters’ New York City public school’s Parents’ Association and admits to being a “crazed public school advocate.” She first learned about Mom Congress while researching how her Parents Association could make a political impact.
During a recent interview Levey shared her excitement about attending the upcoming conference and discussed her education advocacy work, the use of technology and social media in schools, and the elusive blog-life balance.
Mom Blog Magazine: Are you as excited about attending Mom Congress as you are about attending blogging and social media conferences? What excites you about this opportunity? What do you hope to learn?
Rebecca Levey: I am beyond thrilled. I love attending blogging and social media conferences because I love to learn and meet blogging friends old and new, but this is different. Nothing gets me more exorcised than education and the discussions being had right now on every level. To actually get to ask Secretary [of Education Arne] Duncan questions, voice the opinion of so many public school parents and have a place in the discourse is incredibly rare and special. I am so excited for the smaller sessions on curriculum, STEM and parent engagement and can’t wait to meet the other education moms and learn what they are doing at their schools too. I hope to come back to my school and PA with information, resources and a renewed energy.
MBM: As former technology specialist for a public school system, I know that schools can be behind the curve when it comes to integrating new technology and social media. What is your feeling about technology in our schools? Is there a place for student generated blogs and collaboration via email, Google Groups, and Tweeting in our schools?
RL: I think unfortunately many of the technology dollars that flowed into our schools over the last two decades was well intentioned but hugely misguided. Building a computer lab does not make a school technologically up to date. You have to provide an immense amount of professional development and training for the teachers in order for that technology to be meaningful and enrich the learning experience. That is where the funding and focus should be but this gets lost in the rhetoric and budget cuts. I absolutely think there is a place for student generated blogs, podcasts, classrooms without walls across states and countries as well as collaborative study in groups and more. I would love to see html and css coding part of any age appropriate tech class too. Our kids should be learning to do basic code if they’re going to learn how to blog. Coding should be part of the curriculum just like long division or spelling.
MBM: I read that as co-president of your daughter’s PTA, you helped your school raise an impressive $600,000. With social media being used as an avenue to raise awareness about causes, have you incorporated social media into any of your fundraising efforts? If so, what are the benefits to using social media as a fundraising tool or as a way to champion educational reform in communities?
RL: We have a constant discussion at our school on the degree of online communication we can use, and how much, to be effective yet not inundate the already crammed inboxes of our parents. We have not incorporated a lot of social media into our fundraising efforts above and beyond me tweeting away to get donors and thank the donors we have! Honestly I find when it comes to fundraising nothing beats face to face begging! The incredible women who run our annual auction have a saying, “the best time to ask is when you’re paying.” You can’t apply that pressure online. The same is true politically. We have heard over and over again from our local politicians that if 10 people call them on the phone they listen – but a string of emails or an online petition have much less impact.
MBM: You’re a mom of two beautiful girls and an accomplished blogger who maintains a personal site, column on Mom Blog Magazine, collaboration through Blogging Angels, and just launched KidzVuz. How do you maintain blog-life balance?
RL: I don’t! The truth is everything suffers some of the time. Right now my personal blog is not getting the attention it should because my paying jobs and collaborations take precedence. Launching a brand new business like KidzVuz will only be successful if it’s my number one work focus. Luckily it’s something my daughters love, my husband is helping with and my business partner, Nancy Friedman is also one of my Blogging Angels co-hosts so I can cover a lot of ground at once! I know I’m on my computer way too mu ch, but I am lucky because I have the flexibility to pick up my daughters from school, be co-president of our PA and still write, tweet and run these businesses. If it means I’m up til Midnight writing and working then so be it.
The 51 delegates for the 2011 Mom Congress on Education and Learning were either self nominated or nominated by someone who admired their education advocacy efforts. All participants submitted essays and references as part of their application. Parenting Magazine is providing attendees with airfare, ground transportation, three nights of lodging, and admission to the conference during their time at Mom Congress.
Mom Congress invites all moms to become members to learn about promoting positive change in schools from leaders in education and connect with other advocates of school reform.