Faculty Advocacy in DCApril 22, 2019
“Empowered as a member of a participatory democracy” is how Dr. Jon Mundorf described a recent experience on Capitol Hill with three other P.K. Yonge colleagues. The four faculty members, Jon Mundorf (8th grade), Cody Miller (9th grade), Christina Flake (7th grade), and Shelby Boehm (10th grade) traveled to Washington DC to participate in the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) Advocacy and Leadership Summit.
These four members of the P.K. Yonge teaching faculty have been active in NCTE activities, most notably with Cody Miller serving as Chair of the NCTE LGBTQ Advisory Committee. With a combined 40 years of teaching experience in elementary, middle, and high school in four Florida counties, the P.K. team had much to offer the Leadership Summit, and much to share with government representatives and their staff.
Focusing on high-quality literacy instruction, equity, professional learning for teachers of English, and the professionalization of educators, the NCTE Summit offered important professional learning on how education policy works, the current landscape, and the NCTE position in the political context. Drawing on knowledge gained from workshops and presentations, participants then chose a personal focus, identified key elements, crafted succinct statements, and then role-played interactions honing communication skills to be road-tested with legislative aides, policy analysts, and legislators.
Mundorf, Miller, Flake, and Boehm visited legislators offices and shared lived experiences of educational policy and perspectives on education drawn directly from the classroom. Legislative staff met them with genuine interest and honored their wisdom gained from working with our nation’s children. At the end of the time in the Capitol, our faculty felt heard and left with a sense that the perspectives they shared would contribute to a growing understanding of how policies affect teachers and students.
“The experience was an important reminder that teaching doesn’t happen in a vacuum” said Cody Miller, “and it’s critical that legislators connect with people who experience the impact of bills and educational policy decisions.”
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