Guest post from Cape Girardeau CTA President Rhonda Young
At 7:45 a.m., many teachers are just arriving at school to start their day. By 7:45 a.m., MSTA Lobbyists Matt Michelson and Mike Wood have already checked in at the office, gone over the legislative agenda for the day, decided who was going to cover which pieces of legislation, and have begun their walk to the Capital!
I recently was given the opportunity to shadow this “Dynamic Duo” for a day. It was a nonstop learning experience! Informative House and Senate committee hearings were mostly the focus for the day. I was struck by the amount of information that they have to keep up with that is brought forward from these committee hearings. Of course, they not only have to understand the bills that are being discussed, but also advocate the position of MSTA relating to that specific bit of legislation. I was also impressed with the way they make relationships with other lobbyists and with the lawmakers. It is like a little city all on its own within this huge building with LOTS of stairs! (It helps if you are in shape, because it is up and down stairs all day long!)
One of the best ways to get a good picture of the work MSTA does for us is to attend a Regional Capital Day event. These are a way that you can reach out personally to your Senator or Representative and discuss the topics that are especially important to you. Making an appointment in advance is necessary because of the demands on their time during each day. Again, Matt and Mike along with your regional MSTA representative give a thorough presentation about what legislative proposals concerning educational issues are in the forefront of the legislature. This allows you to have the most up-to-date information possible when you are meeting with your region’s lawmakers.
The amount of time and effort Michelson and Wood put in is not just limited to lobbying at the Capital. When the legislature is not in session, Matt and Mike put together programs such as the MSTA Campaign School. I was a part of the most recent Campaign School gathering. Yes, it is very helpful if you are planning a campaign of any kind, however, I felt it was a perfect venue for CTA’s to learn how to be visible in their districts and reach out to gather in new members. As a CTA President, I felt that I brought back many valuable ideas for making our organization stand out and grow. I strongly urge all CTA’s to send members to the Campaign School! It will enhance your ability to capture the attention of potential members and know how to speak to the issues you may have in your district.
It is so wonderful to be a part of MSTA! I am so impressed by the vigilant work that is done every day to protect our best interests! I sincerely hope that all CTA’s will look into these opportunities and many more that are available to serve MSTA members. I can guarantee that you and your membership will be enriched as a result! Step up, learn, and make an impact the MSTA way!