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Haven't We Done This Before?

By Melinda George

Melinda George image
Melinda George

It's finally springtime in Washington, D.C. Cherry blossoms and tulips are blooming, kids are counting down to the last day of school, and the federal appropriations process begins anew. Wait -- didn't we just finish the appropriations process?

It's true. It is time to gear up for the fiscal year 2019 appropriations process, and our education community has much work to do. While Title II ultimately was level-funded for fiscal year 2018 and we believe its prospects are bright in fiscal year 2019, there is no time to waste in getting the word to members of Congress that this is a critical program that deserves to be fully funded again. Evidence of the impact of Title II in your schools and districts has never been more important.

Learning Forward is here to help. We learned a lot in the fight for Title II last year, and we are ready to go. Here's what you will see:

  • Mobilized Learning Forward Advocacy Team (A-Team): The A-Team is a quick and easy way to get involved and ensure that you have the latest information about federal policy, including the status of Title II. A-Team members will be invited to information sharing and strategy phone calls every other month. The calls will provide information and support for advocacy efforts. A-Team members' advocacy efforts will be highlighted in Learning Forward communications, on the advocacy webpages, and in advocacy webinars.
  • Refreshed impact story survey: Learning Forward needs fresh, evidence-laden impact stories to make the case for Title II. In the coming weeks, we will send out a new survey to members asking you to share your story. The stories we need begin with the amount of money Title II provided to your school or district, a description of what your school or district used the money for, and, most importantly, the resulting impact on your school or district. Did you see student achievement improve, did fewer teachers leave, did teachers report more satisfaction in their learning environments? Start putting your story together now.
  • Regular federal advocacy updates: The timing for a strong advocacy push is most critical between now and the end of the calendar year.  Learning Forward will communicate with you through advocacy alerts, electronic newsletters, webinars, conference sessions, and The Learning Professional magazine. Read these updates, participate in the events, and respond regularly. Also forward the information to your networks. The more voices engaged in this fight, the better.
  • Critical input to members of Congress: Members of Congress need to hear from the education community, and the voices that carry the most weight are yours --constituents who live and educate in their districts and states. This year, your voice is even more important to your members of Congress because the entire House of Representatives and one-third of the Senate face re-election in November. Learning Forward will be showing you how to contact your members of Congress by email, phone, or tweet. Make this part of your weekly to-do list. It only takes a few minutes and makes a big difference. We will also encourage you to visit your members of Congress and their staff in their home offices in your state as well as in their D.C. offices. There is no such thing as too much when it comes to delivering the message that Title II is critical.

We recognize that this is a big ask, and we know many of you may be fatigued from the hard-fought Title II battle in 2018. But now is not the time to falter. We need to seek renewal in the springtime and use that to bolster our advocacy efforts to ensure that Title II funding is preserved and used effectively by schools and districts across the United States.

Melinda George is Learning Forward's director of policy and partnerships.

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