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Association of California School Administrators
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Members from ACSA Region 14 meet with State Assemblymember Al Muratsuchi, bottom right, during ACSA’s Legislative Action Day. More than 600 ACSA members representing each region held Zoom meetings with legislators to advocate for the needs of students who have been impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.
What advocacy looks like in 2021
ACSA members hit ‘unmute’ to share their stories about student needs during the school reopening period
April 19, 2021
ACSA members advocated for the needs of their students during the virtual 2021 ACSA Legislative Action Day on April 12 and 13.
The largest group ever — more than 600 ACSA members — met with elected officials via video conference calls to share their stories about the return to classrooms as COVID-19 restrictions are eased.
The virtual format made it possible for more members to connect with their representatives than could do so at an in-person event. Where you might only have a handful of members from an ACSA region meeting in a legislator’s office, Zoom meetings allowed dozens to get face time with their representatives, said ACSA Vice President for Legislative Action Barbara Martinez.
“It’s going to make an impact ... when we meet with our legislators and our legislators see your face,” Martinez said to attendees during the first day. “We are a presence. ACSA is strong. We have something to say.”
Monday’s content focused on preparing members to speak on ACSA’s advocacy talking points: the return to full in-person instruction, use of local assessments and fiscal challenges ahead.
Attendees also participated in an interactive interview with state Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond, who spoke about the role of rapid COVID testing and other California Department of Education efforts to support districts in safely reopening schools.
“We’ve got to figure out how to support students when they come back to campus … then we’ve got to figure out how to address their social emotional needs and assess where students are entering,” he said, adding that a newly convened work group is compiling strategies for assessing returning students. “We are working hard to really think through how CDE can be in a facilitator role to help districts.”
On Tuesday, delegations from each ACSA region participated in more than 70 meetings with representatives to share their stories about difficulties in administering state tests, concerns around distance learning in the fall and the need for long-term funding and not just one-time money.
Region 14 Vice President for Legislative Action Justine Lang said more legislators attended the meetings than ever before — four out of her region’s six meetings included the legislator and staffers.
“It felt more like a conversation with the legislators and not just a presentation,” she said. “We really utilized the chat feature by adding links and other resources, and even had one member share a PowerPoint with pictures! It was a great way to give a visual representation to our stories.”
Lang said every legislator and staffer thanked them for the hard work administrators have done this year.
“Even though we were there to thank them as part of our meetings, hearing them recognize the work of administrators was really uplifting,” she said. “Many of our ACSA members have been the unsung heroes during these challenging times, so receiving such positive, unsolicited support was definitely appreciated.”
During two half-days of content on ACSA’s virtual conference platform, members also had the opportunity to hear from State Senate Education Committee Chair Connie Leyva, Senate Budget Subcommittee No.1 on Education Chair John Laird, California Assembly Education Committee Chair Patrick O’Donnell, and Assembly Budget Subcommittee No. 2 on Education Finance Chair Kevin McCarty.
Attendees were able to listen to Dr. Naomi Bardach, a University of California, San Francisco, pediatrician and lead on the state’s Safe Schools for All plan. She took questions about safety in schools, including the latest news that Pfizer is seeking emergency use authorization from the FDA to begin vaccinating 12- to 15-year-olds. She shared that “trusted messengers” like school administrators must get the right information out to reassure families on the safety of vaccines and attending school. Martinez said that in the more than 15 years she has attended this event, this year has felt the most relevant.
“We need to get back to school, that’s the bottom line,” she said. “We are the experts in the field, and those are the heart of the conversations that we’re having today.”
SPI Tony Thurmond gave a keynote during the event.
ACSA Vice President for Legislative Action Barbara Martinez, bottom, gives her impressions on the final day of Legislative Action Day with ACSA Senior Director of Marketing and Communications Naj Alikhan, top left, and Senior Director of Governmental Relations Edgar Zazueta, top right.
State Senate Education Committee Chair Connie Leyva takes questions during Legislative Action Day.
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