by Clarissa West-White,
Florida Council of Teachers of English
It has taken nearly a year and a half, but Florida’s Advocacy Day is only 5 weeks away. With the assistance of its SLATE/NCTE representative, Clarissa West-White; Second Vice-President/NCTE Local Arrangements Chair, Susan Houser; and member, Shelbie Witte, the Florida Council of Teachers of English will converge on the capital, April 7, 2010.
Several board members, members at large and members from other state affiliates, NCTE officials, students from area universities, and teachers will follow a program similar to that of NCTE’s National Literacy Education Advocacy Day. There will be an early morning briefing prior to our departure to the Capitol, followed by a debriefing in the evening with light refreshments. It is our hope that members of the Committee on Education Pre-K-12 and the Committee on Education Pre-K-12 Appropriations will be able to attend, if not both, either the briefing or debriefing.
If you plan to attempt such an advocacy day of your own, it would be to your advantage:
to contact the reservation department of the Capitol as early as possible to secure rooms within the building or on the grounds.
to establish a date early, so that those who plan to attend can contact their representatives for meetings. I was able to arrange meetings with both of my representatives; however, their staffs could not guarantee me a face-to-face meeting since their daily calendars are not known that far in advance. If they do not have meetings or hearings, and are present when we arrive, we will meet with them, but otherwise we will meet with their staff.
to locate nearby housing and dining for out-of-town participants. Not only should you provide them with maps and pricing information, but give them the city’s layout so they know how to pack, and where to go once they arrive.
to attempt to arrange some form of travel for those who are interested, but may not be able to afford the trip solo. To help those who register, the online registration form posted to our affiliate’s website, asks whether or not people are willing to carpool. Once the forms are collected, those who say yes and are near others who are also willing to share the trek, will be contacted and paired.
to organize and communicate with those coordinating the event often. There are free sites to assist with conference calls, online chats, and even instant messaging to aid in planning and establishing timelines for the completion of items and assignment of responsibility.
In an upcoming SLATE Update email, I will reflect upon our first ever Florida Advocacy Day, including photos and sample artifacts. I am optimistic that this inaugural event will be fruitful, and with time become a staple event for English teachers in Florida.