Diving into Advocacy

Over the past few years, I have inadvertently become and advocate and policy wonk for all things early childhood education and/or Montessori education in my home state of Colorado. It wasn’t something that I ever thought would be a part of my regular work, it is just something that I fell into by way of passion. When I saw how drastically one state employee could impact a school I knew that I had to be a person who was advocating for necessary change and moving myself from a position of reacting and responding to one of influencing the conversation.

After meeting with lobbyists, legislators and regulators as well as testifying several times at the state capitol, I knew that I had found a calling of sorts. Not everyone is cut out to stand up in public, speak their beliefs, and then be questioned (quite pointedly at times) about those beliefs. I do this well and I have seen the work I have done in public policy and advocacy make a palpable difference in my state. I’m hooked.

Spending a lot of time at the Capitol and attending policy meetings I have learned something that is critical: our elected officials are required to get informed and make decisions on a massive array of subject matter. They simply cannot be experts at all of it and they know it. Most elected officials are relieved to find experts who know the ins and outs of specific subject matter. Early childhood education is no exception. The true intricacies of our work in the classroom and the realities of how public, private, and nonprofit early childhood programs run is something that your average Senator is not going to understand deeply. Becoming an advocate is your opportunity to ensure that elected officials are hearing from real people whose work is affected by the decisions they make, instead of hearing from lobbyists and other special interests.

As I have become a fixture in early childhood advocacy in my home state, I have also realized that I have much to learn about how to be an optimally effective advocate. First, I want to better understand the rules and regulations regarding how lobbyists work in my state. I have realized that they are from a variety of backgrounds and are  employed under a variety of terms. I am curious what it takes to formally lobby in my state. Second, I need to make sure that I understand the advocacy landscape for early childhood. Have I identified all of the potential resources and organizations that might help my efforts? Finally, I want to work towards developing partnerships that can help our causes and ideas get national recognition.

We, as early childhood professionals, have a responsibility to influence the conversation through the lens of the reality of our work. Rest assured, special interests such as the NEA, Pearson, and McGraw-Hill are most certainly going to try! I’ll see you at the Capitol…

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~ by vegucationmama on November 2, 2014.

3 Responses to “Diving into Advocacy”

  1. Thank you for the information I will use it

  2. Rebecca,
    Thank you for sharing your passion and dedication to our field in early childhood education. I work for a nonprofit organization and I wanted to continue my professional learning/education with public policy. I wanted to know more in-depth about how policies are formed and the development of the rules and regulations. In my opinion, we have numerous lobbyist who make decision in regards to ECE but my main question is how much are they in-depth in knowing the pro’s and con’s for early childhood education?
    Thanks for sharing,
    Brittney

  3. This is great Rebecca, I cannot wait to read a learn more about what you do as an advocator. I have recently started to link the two terms advocate and lobbyists in the same category however wasn’t sure if they could coincidence. I have had an interest in become an lobbyists at one time because my feelings of officials making riles for a group of individuals whom world they do not understand truly bothered me. If you have never lived the world of an early childhood educator then you can’t describe the effects your proposed policy will have on these group of children?

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