Legislative Advocacy Committee
“I know of no safe depository of the ultimate powers of society but the people themselves…and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but inform their discretion by education.” Thomas Jefferson
As we begin another school year our country is beset with many challenges that are affecting all of us in one way or another. As publicly funded institutions, school districts are not immune from the impacts of the recession. However, we chose to look at our challenges as opportunities to focus closely on the charge we have been given as a district to provide a quality education to all our students based on our diversity.
The words of Thomas Jefferson are as important to Americans today as when he first said them over two centuries ago. Jefferson’s charge for us comes in two parts: (1) We must provide our students with a quality of education that prepares them the ‘wholesome discretion’ it will take to become responsible and productive citizens and (2) the district must provide the community with the information they need in order to speak to lawmakers and to vote with informed discretion.
- Adequate public school fundings
- Quality classroom experiences
Effecitive coalition-building and communication with state and federal legislators will empower all levels of government to elevate student success.
In 2004 the Davenport Community School Board approved the creation of the Legislative Advocacy Committee as a standing committee of the board. The board realized that in order to be effective advocates for public school education it was necessary to engage the larger community in advocacy efforts.
Our earliest efforts revolved around getting students involved in advocacy. We began by sponsoring school bus trips to Des-Moines during the legislative session to allow our students to engage local legislators in the context of the place where our state laws are created. We have done this annually (with the exception of a weather cancellation in 2008).
Our committee recognizes the important role we have in advocating for Davenport Community Students, however; we believe advocacy is most effective with state legislators when we are able to frame our message around all Iowa public school students.
Our purpose is threefold:
- Constituency Development: This gets back to the original reason for creation of the committee. The board realized that while they are elected to assure that the needs of our public school students is addressed, our message to local legislators were very predictable and had limited impact. Our primary goal therefore has been to engage other constituencies within our community and to help them find their voice for advocacy. We continually focus our efforts on students, however; we have also worked with early education advocates and teachers. Early education members continue to serve an effective advocacy role outside the Legislative Advocacy Committee.A huge aspect of constituency development is simply the building of relationships. Not only is the board’s relationship with the community enhanced but also the open engagement with state legislators has opened up communication channels that allow for the free flow of ideas and questions.
- Public Education: In order for constituent members to have an effective role in advocacy they need to be able to understand legislation and the process by which bills become law. The committee holds various functions during the year such as legislator socials, candidate forums, and Scott County school board forums. We are currently planning a School Finance Course for legislators and interested public.
- Legislation: The board looks to the committee for guidance on specific legislation being considered. Additionally the committee offers resolutions and positions they believe the board should consider. The committee works closely with the Superintendent on issues of specific legislation to assure that the district is speaking with a unified voice.
Members for the 2013-2014 School Year
- Richard Clewell (Chair) – Board Member
- Ralph Johanson- Board President
- Ken Krumwiede – Board Member
- Rachael Steiner – Development Supervisor
- Guy Heller-Curriculum Specialist
- Kathy Schulte – Early Childhood Services Principal
- Dawn Saul – Communications Specialist
- Write to a Legislator
- Legislative Tool Kit (Everything you need to know about advocacy)
- Davenport Community School District home page
- Legislative Talking Points Funding Equity
- Want to contact the Governor about a legislative issue: http://www.governor.iowa.gov/contact
- My Iowa Schools: www.myiowaschools.org
- Iowa Association of School Boards: http://www.ia-sb.org
- Local Legislators: http://www.scottcountyiowa.com/auditor/elected_officials.php?code=IA
- Get on the Bus 2012 Picture Gallery
Contact our Board Secretary\Treasurer for any questions you might have. Ms. Mary Correthers, 563.336.5087 or firstname.lastname@example.org.