Saturday, August 8, 2015

NY BATs - Part 1 - Meeting with Federal Lawmakers in D.C.
By:  Rosemary Pearce

Gillibrand meeting:
BAT attendees: Deb Escobar, Stephanie Eberhard-Holgerson, Terry Kalb, Rosemary Pearce, Roberta Reid
Aides with whom we met: Bo Machayo, Christina Novoa. Originally we were supposed to meet with John (Trey) Smith, but he was out of town that day. I later had a conversation with Jeremy Dudley who met with Trey the next day. His was a different meeting.
Biggest takeaway: Bo spent a significant amount of time checking his phone and texting. His comments about awareness of certain issues (testing of students with disabilities) were surface and insincere. Terry challenged him on that issue. Christina has a degree in developmental psychology so appeared to be more sympathetic to the issues we raised. They did extend the meeting to just under one hour. Our group touched on many problems public educators face. Bringing our voices to their offices is important. We know that our opponents outspend us, but we bring real-world experience and authentic research. They need to hear that.
Follow up: Sent email thanking them for meeting with us and restating our main concerns. Did not request summer meeting.

Zeldin meeting:
BAT attendees: Stephanie Eberhard-Holgerson, Terry Kalb, Rosemary Pearce
Legislative attendees: Lee Zeldin, Legislative asst. Matthew Scott
Biggest takeaway: Zeldin only met with us for 15 min b/c he had to get to a vote (he voted no on GMO labelling). He acknowledged how bad Cuomo is on education and he comes from a family of educators. He did not commit to advocacy beyond his support for states to opt out of cc. He gave us passes to the galley and had Matthew Scott escort us there. During that time, we pressed our points further. His sister teaches in NYC, his best friend is a teacher, and he had his own learning issues growing up. We let him know that he would have a much more difficult path to becoming a legislative aide today. Again, this office was not used to hearing from educators on education issues outside of personal anecdotal information. We should continue this strategy locally and nationally throughout the year.
Follow up: Sent email thanking them for meeting with us and restating our main concerns. Did not request summer meeting.

Overall - the more BATs who become comfortable with lobbying, the more our voices will be heard. The conference calls Denisha and you ran were very helpful. Now that this group has some lobbying experience, we can turnkey strategies to other BATs who are able to contact elected officials.

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