By Mitch Smith
MASA Communications Specialist
Have you reached out to your legislators lately about the myriad of challenging and controversial issues facing public schools? Do you wish to communicate how proposed legislative policies would affect your district work and impact students? MASA’s Legislative Advocacy Day was an opportunity for Region 4 superintendents to answer these questions in a day filled with relevant information and guided assistance.
MASA kicked off our first Legislative Advocacy Days session on February 21 in downtown Lansing. Superintendents from MASA Region 4 began the day by sitting down with Peter Spadafore, MASA associate executive director for government relations, and Sarah Hubbard, principal of Acuitas LLC, to hone their skills on how to be a more effective advocate for their district and positively engage with legislators. This was also an opportunity to review MASA legislative policy and priorities before meeting with their local state representatives, senators and committee members.
“As a MASA member, my view is that it’s very important to participate in these opportunities,” said Paul Hungerford, Superintendent of Fulton Schools. “Too often, communication is confined to e-mail and phone calls.”
“The Legislative Advocacy Day experience allowed me to have face-to-face conversations with my elected officials, in their work environment about educational issues we are facing,” Hungerford said after meeting with Senator Judy Emmons (R-Sheridan) outside the Senate chambers.
MASA scheduled meetings with region elected officials for the superintendents, giving them the opportunity to discuss pending legislation from their perspectives as public school leaders.
David O’Bryant, Superintendent of Farwell Area Schools, echoed the sentiment after getting the opportunity to discuss issues with State Representative Jason Wentworth (R-Clare). “Learning the processes, and having an opportunity to meet the Legislators in their setting, was a great opportunity for me,” O’Bryant said.
The Region 4 superintendents also participated in a sit-down meeting about MASA’s priorities with one of Michigan’s legislative leaders on education policy, State Representative Tim Kelly (R-Saginaw Township), who chairs the House Education Reform Committee.
“Advocacy for education is a component of the Superintendent’s job and the MASA Region Legislative Advocacy Day was the perfect forum to do that,” said Michael Sharrow, Superintendent of Midland Public Schools. “I found having other Superintendents from the region with me while speaking with legislators to be very impactful.”
“As a new superintendent, I truly appreciate the opportunity provided by MASA to participate in the Legislative Advocacy Day,” Hungerford said. “Having the experience of observing and participating in the work that is being done by our professional organization, in conjunction with our state’s elected officials on a regular basis was eye-opening. This opportunity facilitated my district to have a voice with state officials regarding issues that have the most impact on us.”
About MASA Legislative Advocacy Day
MASA will continue to hold these region-focused Advocacy Days for members to join colleagues to learn effective skills to engage legislators. Participants will receive a brief training session on how to effectively engage local legislators, take part in a briefing of current issues and legislation facing public school districts, and participate in valuable face-to-face meeting opportunities with local senators or state representatives.