Written by Pam Bateman - Principal, Covenant Love Community School
Advocacy Day at the Capitol sounded like a great idea when it was presented at the RISE conference in October. I agreed to attend, expecting to hide in the back of a
group and let others do the talking. Then, in mid-February, I was faced with the reality of contacting legislators myself. Nothing in me wanted to pick up the phone and make
the needed appointments, even though I'd been given detailed instructions. I actually considered cancelling the trip, but ongoing encouragement from my "coach," Merle Skinner,
and other team members enabled me to overcome my strong reluctance. I finally made the calls and discovered that setting up meetings was surprisingly easy to do.
At the orientation dinner, we were carefully briefed for our Tuesday meetings. We were given background information and specific talking points. However, we learned that our
success would best be defined by just showing up, not by the particular outcome of a meeting. I no longer saw myself as voiceless and insignificant. I left feeling affirmed, prepared,
and empowered to be a mouthpiece for our parents, our schools, and our God.
Our first meeting was with a legislative staff member and I surprised myself by speaking up during the conversation. It wasn't so hard after all! Walking through the buildings,
I was amazed at the number of interest groups filling the halls. How complacent I'd been over the years, allowing others to do the legwork advocating for our Christian and non-public schools.
After lunch, I led our meeting with my local legislator, who opposed the Tax Credit Bill. I was nervous at the outset, but our supportive group bolstered my confidence.
When I entered my second appointment at the end of the day, I was almost relaxed. My familiarity with the process had grown exponentially in a matter of hours and this final meeting was
an upbeat conclusion to a most memorable day at the Capitol!
My take-away from Albany? Our lawmakers and their staffs are "real people" just like me. I can find common ground with them and communicate clearly about issues of importance.
After being trained by the best for these face-to-face encounters, ongoing contact with my legislators is no longer scary. Advocacy Day 2018 is already on my calendar. I hope you'll be there, too!