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How to Get Your Affiliate to Sponsor Advocacy Day

by Susan Houser,
Florida Council of Teachers of English
May 2009 SLATE Update

The Florida Council of Teachers of English sent four people to Washington, D.C., on April 23, 2009, to attend NCTE’s Advocacy Day on Capitol Hill. How did we accomplish that? Here are the steps we took.

(left to right, above: FCTE's Clarissa West-White, April Blaze, Joan Kaywell; Clint Cates, legislative aide to Senator Bill Nelson; FCTE's Christiana Succar, Susan Houser, and Kathleen Blake Yancey)

Last year two of us went and spent money out of our own pockets to attend, so we were involved and committed to go again this year. However, the support of FCTE helped us to recruit three more people to go and as a result seven representatives with ties to either Florida universities or FCTE were present on April 23.  Our delegation included FCTE board members, including the SLATE representative, FCTE members at large, and NCTE Executive Committee members. It was truly amazing and powerful. As we looked around the table at Senator Bill Nelson’s office, we knew our message was being heard by his educational legislative aide.

Being a board member and an active participant, my mission was to solicit FCTE’s support in our efforts in going to Washington, D.C. to represent our affiliate and state. At our annual Professional Development Institute in October 2008, Clarissa West-White, our SLATE representative, presented a workshop on advocacy and formed a committee out of those in attendance. We also received a commitment from that group to do everything possible to attend this year’s advocacy day in D.C. as our first step in building support and direction for this committee.

At the January board meeting, we held commission meetings where those interested in advocacy met and brought forth a motion to the board asking for financial support in the amount of $500 per person to go to D.C. in April. The board was also asked to set aside $1 of each paid membership toward advocacy to offset some of the cost to the board. The board approved our motions and we began to notify those who expressed an interest in advocacy at the Professional Development Institute held each year in October. Of the four, three had previously attended NCTE’s Day on the Hill; one new member, a third-year teacher was passionate about our efforts and eager to participate.

While we know that not every affiliate has the extra funds or is as big as our affiliate, you can always start somewhere. Funding one additional person beyond your SLATE representative would be a good place to start! Just think, if every affiliate with the means could do that by next year, we would have well over 200 people on the Hill for Advocacy Day!! It boggles the mind!

 

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NCTE - The National Council of Teachers Of English

A Professional Association of Educators in English Studies, Literacy, and Language Arts