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Legislative Session Set to Resume Shortly; Are You an e-Vocate?

Aaron Keel

By Aaron Keel, MASB Assistant Director of Government Relations

DashBoard, Aug. 16, 2017

The end of summer is right around the corner, and with that comes the start of school for those on traditional schedules, and the return of the Legislature to their normal session schedule. We know this can be a busy time of year, but it’s important to remain ever vigilant and engaged with what’s happening in Lansing. An easy way to stay engaged and updated is by signing up to be a MASB e-Vocate, if you are not already.

Why you may ask? For starters, nearly 80% of our education funding comes through the state via the legislative process, and almost every day it seems as if schools are being asked to do more with fewer resources. Further, every year there are hundreds of bills introduced that prescribe, prohibit, encourage or discourage matters that affect schools.

Being a board member automatically makes you an advocate for public education, yet not every member seizes that responsibility. As school board members and administrators you know how actions taken in Lansing can influence what happens in your local communities. You see its effects on a daily basis. Therefore, you should also know how important it is that school boards make every effort to affect the legislative process for the benefit of local districts and education in general.

Legislators need to know and understand these impacts, and while we are your lobbyists, you—as a constituent and a locally elected school board member—are the most important voice for a legislator to hear from. You are the only individual who can truly hold a legislator accountable.

Advocacy can mean many things; it could be reaching out to your community to share positive stories about your district or contacting your State Representative to share thoughts on an education issue pending before them. However, no matter what kind of advocacy it is that you engage in, it’s important to be involved, because legislators rely on local input from individuals such as yourself to make decisions that will affect your shared community.

When was the last time you contacted your state or federal legislator? When was the last time the state or federal government passed a law that impacted your role as a board member or your district as a whole?

Contacting your local legislators is neither difficult nor necessarily time consuming. It only takes a few phone calls or letters to make your voice heard, and we at MASB try to make the process even easier for you through our e-Vocate system.

At www.masb.org/evocate, you can sign up to stay up-to-date on the most recent legislation affecting public schools through our weekly (while the Legislature is in session) News From the Capitol email, find out who your state and federally elected representatives are and easily contact them, keep track of key issues in the Legislature and respond to any urgent legislative alerts when your voice on an important matter pending before the Legislature is most critical.

By signing up to be an e-Vocate, you have our commitment that we will not be bombarding you with spam email. We try our hardest to pass along only important, relevant and timely information; and only alert you of pending votes and ask you to take action when it is of the utmost importance.

Finally, your Government Relations Team can assist you in various ways in your advocacy efforts. From helping establish local grassroots networks to giving updates on happenings in Lansing to helping identify your elected officials, we are always eager to help. Simply contact us with your request at masbgov@masb.org or 517.327.5900. We believe it’s important for school board members to make every effort to affect the legislative process for the benefit of local districts and education in general. It’s important to be an advocate.

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