Last week I participated in Stand for Children’s Day at the Capitol alongside other teachers and parents from across Colorado. We had the opportunity to engage with state legislators, staff from Governor Hickenlooper’s office and the chairman of the State Board of Education, Steve Durham. I thoroughly enjoyed meeting these individuals and hearing about their various roles. It broke down a barrier for me that will know make it easier to initiate contact with these people, or those in similar roles, in the future.
As I reflected on my experience I wanted to share some of my big takeaways and encourage other teachers to get involved and engage with policymakers. Many people who make the decisions about education have not been educators themselves, or are far removed from the experience. Despite having the best intentions, they may lack true understanding of what goes on in a school and what the real needs of teachers and students are. It is therefore our responsibility as educators to speak up for what we need and be active in the process of making it happen. It’s so easy to get discouraged with the politics and bureaucracy in education, but teachers’ voices are powerful and need to be heard!
Here are a few other reasons I think it is so important for those impacted by policies shaped at the State Capitol to get involved:
- The process of a bill becoming a law starts with ONE representative or senator proposing an idea. The legislative process has always seemed so intimidating, but realizing this fact makes it much more accessible. It makes me feel empowered to engage more with my local lawmakers and share my ideas.
- The capitol is open to the public. Again, I have always been intimidated by politics and felt like it was an exclusive club, but something as simple as walking through the doors for the first time opened my eyes to how accessible the process is to citizens.
- I had learned about the process of a bill becoming a law in school, but hearing about it again in the actual building where it all takes place finally made it click!
Spending a day engaging with policymakers was an incredibly educational and empowering experience and has inspired me to get more involved in the decision making that directly affects my life.