WACAC in Sacramento and D.C.!

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By Alyson Tom and Amy Brennen

WACAC’s Government Relations and Advocacy Committee (GRAC) celebrated yet another successful Sacramento legislative conference, where even more WACAC members learned to advocate for themselves and their students.

 During February 5th and 6th, dozens of attendees met with WACAC’s legislative advocate, became educated about current priorities, and practiced speaking with elected officials about current issues.

 Then attendees put their new knowledge in the action; meeting with members from California’s State Assembly and Senate, sharing their stories on the importance of school counseling and student protections, and informing elected officials that WACAC was ready serve as a resource.

 If you missed the conference, but still want to get involved, join our GRAC Facebook group — and get engaged!

WACAC was well represented at NACAC’s Advocacy Day in Washington, DC in late February!  After a day of training, Sonia Ryan, Jeff Morrow, Marc McGee, Breanne Boyle, Esther Hugo, Kris Zavoli, and I spent a day on Capitol Hill, meeting with the education policy Legislative Assistants for our respective members of Congress from both the House and Senate.  It was my first NACAC Advocacy Day, and I had a blast.  Offices we visited:

House of Representatives — Anna Eshoo, John Garamendi, Mike Thompson, and Mimi Walters

Senate — Kamala Harris and Dianne Feinstein

During our visits, we shared information about NACAC and WACAC, and we advocated for DACA students, public school counselors, and students who need financial aid.  More specifically, we asked that our representatives:

  • Pass DREAM/DACA legislation
  • Fully fund at $1.6 billion the K-12 Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) Student Support and Academic Enrichment Grants (SSAEG), Title IV, Part A — which helps support college and career counseling
  • Oppose the House’s version of the Higher Education Act reauthorization
  • Protect the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program

Even though most (though not all) of our representatives agree with NACAC’s policy positions, our visits and the stories we shared gave them a more concrete understanding of how policy affects real students and educators.

If you weren’t able to attend Advocacy Day, you can still take action!  Be sure to visit NACAC’s Legislative Action Center regularly for easy opportunities to write your representatives.  You may also reach out to WACAC’s Government Relations and Advocacy Committee; Breanne Boyle is the current GRAC Chair and Maureen Chang is Chair-Elect. You can reach out to the committee by emailing wacacgrac@wacac.org. Additionally, Kris Zavoli and I are on the NACAC Government Relations Committee; we’re happy to serve as resources.

If you missed the conference, but still want to get involved, join our GRAC Facebook group — and get engaged!

We are also doing a session at WACAC! It’s called, “Politics, Amiright?” and we will be teaching you some hands-on ways to advocate for your students and fostering discussion on topics related to advocacy!

Photo caption: Alyson Tom, Sonia Ryan, Marc McGee, Kris Zavoli, Esther Hugo, Jeff Morrow, and Breanne Boyle with Senator Dianne Feinstein (I was photoshopped in because I had to catch a flight before this meeting!)

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